Saturday April 13, 2024

No place for women

By Editorial Board
June 01, 2022

While men who claim that they are following religious or cultural norms continue to comment on the clothes women wear and openly indulge in rape jokes, while governments impose paternalistic outlines for what can and cannot be depicted in television shows when it comes to women, the stories that appear daily in our newspapers are simply harrowing. In the latest report, last week a 25-year-old woman traveling from Multan aboard the Bahauddin Zakariya Express to Karachi was first lured by the staff members of a private company into an air-conditioned chamber that she was offered in place of the economy seating she had purchased, and then gang-raped by the ticket checkers and other members of staff of the company. The young woman immediately reported the incident to the Railways police at Karachi when she arrived in the city and DNA samples were collected at a local hospital. The case will be investigated, but our problem is that too often the investigations provide insufficient evidence to punish the perpetrators who more often that should happen get away scot-free. We hope that now that the case has been reported and is well documented, there will be due punishment for the members of the private firm.

Although women make up almost 50 per cent of the country in which they are frequently killed in the name of the honour of their family, subjected to domestic violence, assault, and other crimes, there appears to be no safe place even for women carrying out the regular activities of life. The ability to travel without fear of being raped is a bare minimum right that the women of the country need to be able to avail.

We are no more sensitive than the worst of countries when it comes to how we discuss and tackle rape. Blaming the victim is commonplace among the police, judiciary and media while rape culture thrives in our patriarchal society. If anyone is truly concerned about morality and values in society, surely they should be aiming to curb violence against women, both within their own homes and the world that lies beyond. This includes public transport. Working class women are of course most vulnerable due to the glaring class inequalities in our society. Misogyny over social media and on other forums, whether from influential figures, politicians or others, also needs to be cracked down on. These comments, which have seen a surge in recent months, simply drive forward the violence women face on a daily basis. The growing incidences of violence and rape in our country do not befit a state which calls itself moral or religiously inclined.