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October 1, 2020

Misogyny rules

Editorial

 
October 1, 2020

CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh is right back in the spotlight – not that the spotlight should have shifted in the first place in any case. The high-ranking police official seems to have zero regard for the way his unwarranted remarks have been taken. Now, while appearing in front of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, the CCPO has said that the motorway gang-rape survivor had not sought her husband's permission before travelling. This, of course, brought expected ire from the committee, which asked whether the survivor had told him this.

We have seen far too much sexism on display, and in particular this heinous recent criminal act has brought to the fore the glaring misogyny that permeates every single part of our society. The fact that a high-ranking public official would find it perfectly alright to suggest that a woman would need her husband's – or anyone's – permission to leave her home or set out for a destination of her choice is disturbing. But this is hardly surprising. Pakistan suffers from a a very real issue: misogyny, victim-blaming and a horrifying epidemic of sex crimes against women and children.

The question Pakistan's women are asking is: can they be safe when people like CCPO Umar Sheikh are the ones they must turn to for protection? The women have said: no. We had written previously in this space about the sheer cluelessness and apathy on display by the sitting government which refuses to recognise the problem women are pointing to when it comes to the CCPO's attitude. Not only was he already controversial due to the way the IG Punjab was let go, the way the government has turned a blind eye to the callousness and sexism on display by the CCPO does not inspire any confidence in the police system – at least for women. A country where gross violations of human rights are so common that we cannot even keep track of them cannot afford a police force that too subscribes to the prevailing notions of 'honour' and morality. The women of the country are not safe. That is a fact that can neither be wished away nor fixed by confining women to their homes – since for many home is not a safe space either. Are the women of the country then supposed to quietly make peace with the violence they suffer? Are they to hope for no help from law-enforcement because even the police hierarchy holds the same misogynist views as the rest of society? Do the women of this country not deserve better than the CCPO Lahore?