Wednesday October 27, 2021

Another day, another rape

October 15, 2021

It is quite obvious that incidents of grotesque violence against women are becoming more and more common in our country. This time the victim was a teenage girl who was lured from her home in Toba Tek Singh to Gojra along the M-4 Motorway, on the pretext of being offered a job at a boutique. As she reached the destination, she was pulled into a car and raped. The culprits have reportedly been arrested and the IG Police and chief minister of Punjab have both condemned the incident.

However, condemnations and even action after the event is simply not enough. We lack sufficient implementation of the laws in the country to protect women. The law on domestic violence against women has been blocked in several places, with the Council of Islamic Ideology now looking at its content. The justice system itself works against women, putting them on trial rather than the perpetrators of the crime. Victim blaming is a common offence and has been seen again and again. Nothing can be more demeaning to a woman than being blamed for a crime committed against her by others, and in particular, a crime which leaves her scarred for life. Society too tends to stigmatise women who have in any way become victims of rape or harassment, talking about the manner in which they were dressed, how they behaved, where they went, rather than the simple fact that they were made victims of criminal action by persons who chose to use their power to do so.

This is a problem that needs to be tackled at the highest level. We have seen women speak out against the sexual abuse they suffer all too frequently. However, more voices need to be raised. They need to be raised in the legislature and at other forums. We also need to teach men respect and basic gender sensitisation. The locker room banter we hear so often has increased, with its use by persons in positions of office. More measures need to be taken to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against women are not let off by our justice system which is badly flawed and depends on poor police investigation. The women of Pakistan have a right to a better justice system, an equal society, an even playing field. This is the absolute least they should be accorded.