Accounts of different women that were brought to my attention: all came from different backgrounds, cultural upbringing, social class and different personalities.
One thing in common with all of them: they have been harassed at least once in their lives.
In a society where culprits roam around free while the victim suffers, where families who seek justice are prolonged fair trials and those who win, win with the power of money, it is difficult for evil doers to not take advantage of other people.
Nobody demands an answer, nobody considers anything a crime.
We are told to ‘ignore’ such advances, that they, in turn, will be ashamed of what they did in front of God many years from now, and that their own ‘karma’ will get to them. It is considered okay to whistle at a woman, to sing when a woman walks past you and discuss a woman with inappropriate language because well, that’s manhood right?
When I grew up, I realized that sometimes these harassers deserved a lesson, and that it was not wise to keep ignoring. Most of the times, the victim is told to ‘forget it’ or ‘ignore it’ so that more aggressive behavior is not provoked through the action of retaliation or response. However, if you keep on ignoring it, chances are that the harassment will keep on continuing.
We have all seen loads of videos on YouTube creating awareness about all kinds of harassment in the Middle East: Work place harassment, relationships, and friendships, even extended family members you feel uncomfortable around! Harassment is all around us, even happening to men, transgender, and children. Women are not the only victims; however women are the largest majority.
In 2019, a 21 year old girl was raped by three police officers in Rawalpindi. Across the globe, police are the ones responsible for maintaining law and order, preventing criminal activities. They are considered the protectors of citizens. When the protectors of citizens are indulged in such heinous crimes, than who is going to help these people in finding justice?
In January 2018, Zainab Ansari, a seven year old girl, was raped and strangled to death in Kasur. A 16 year old girl was raped and killed in Sargodha, and a day later, a 13 year old boy was sexually assaulted by two men belonging to an influential family. In Faisalabad, the same day, a 15 year old boy was found dead by sexual assault. A few days later, a 3 year old girl, Asma, was raped in Mardan, who had been reported missing for over 24 hours. Her dead body was found later.
Anderea Dowkin once mentioned that, by the time we become ‘women’, fear is as familiar to us as ‘air’, the element that we breathe. We live in it, we inhale it, and we exhale it.
I myself have tried to avoid various social events for the fear of not going out alone at night, or if I fear that the area has no police around those particular hours, or if there’s a lot of street crimes in that particular street of Karachi.
Many of these cases go unreported because the victim fears vengeance, hostility and humiliation in society.
I’m out wearing casual jeans and a T-shirt, because I am exhausted after work and I have to go grab some groceries from the Supermarket. I forgot my shawl at home, but I have no time to go back just so I can cover up before the lurking eyes of evil men start following me everywhere. But it happens, and I am prepared for it.
I am used to this; I ignore it and brush it off like nothing happened. It’s not something uncommon to me; I have learnt to accept the treatment because I was born a female: someone with organs that excite men, someone living in a society with sick-minded men.
If we see only the women activists and feminists fighting for this, we are going to lose this fight. It needs to come from the whole society, with men being a huge and integral part of it.
About 18 women of Pakistan face heinous crimes every day in the four provinces of the country as they are murdered, raped, or killed in the name of honor, fresh official data collected by The News revealed.
So far this year alone, at least 274 women have been killed in the name of honor, 206 gang-raped, 2840 raped, and 681 have been murdered across the country, the data of registered cases. In total, more than 5660 crimes were reported against women in Pakistan’s four provinces during the first 10 months of the year.
Pakistan ranks as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women, with cases of sexual crimes and domestic violence recording a rapid rise. Activists blame society’s patriarchal attitudes for the problem.
So when are we going to put a halt to this? When are we going to make this country safe for our women, children, and men? When are the transgender going to avail their rights in a society, let alone country? What is going to happen to the future generations, where crime rate will only be getting worse with the availability of apps and location finders and trackers and what not? These are all things that add to the crimes being committed so easily.
In the midst of all this madness, I long to have some kind of laws, in which these culprits are at least made aware of the penalties of such heinous crimes.
How are they going to learn that their actions have actual consequences if they are set to roam around free? Why do they commit these actions so fearlessly, have we ever thought about it? Why is it so natural for a woman to fear a man lurking in the shadows of a night, while if a man gets scared of seeing something, he thinks it’s probably a wild animal? The difference is clear.
I see men standing at local chai dhabas outside, gossiping with friends like there are no worries in the world. Because they know, that they have the upper hand. They’ll always be the ones that can cause harm, they won’t be taking any. A woman, sadly, can’t feel the same. Even the literate males will behave like wild beasts once they see you alone and uncomfortable, and I have personally experienced that. When I see a bike following my car and I’m alone, I fear for my safety. What if he has a gun? What if he stops my car? What if he shoots if I resist? Thoughts overwhelm my mind with fear of the unknown.
I long for the day I can walk out on the streets alone without fearing what car or bike is following me, who is walking by me, and who is looking at me. I long to be carefree doing whatever I want, whenever I want, and even the basic, mundane of tasks are done with a heavy burden on my chest of looking acceptable and being careful in a society where I don’t garner too much male attention, so I can be ‘safe’ when I am alone.
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