“Oye bachi check kero”
“Hai to bari fit”
These words echoed in Sara’s ears as she crossed the street, filled with distress and fear. Unfortunately, if someone posts this story on their Facebook wall, most comments will be focused on the victim’s clothing and presence outside of home. And rarely will you find comments highlighting that the problem lies with those vulgar boys, who have no sense of respect for women.
Harassment has been a major issue in Pakistan for a very long time, but it’s only recently that people have started being vocal about it due to the role social media has played in creating awareness. Before anyone moves forward to blame the women folk, let us tell you that 100%, YES HUNDRED PERCENT, of the women in Pakistan have experienced harassment in one form or the other in Pakistan. If you don’t believe, go and ask the women in your homes and you will be shocked by their stories. And nevertheless, the statistics speak for themselves that the problem lies with the misogynistic men who have no shame whatsoever.
Harassment is of many kinds such as verbal, physical, sexual, cyberbullying etc. And it is a stated fact that the blame in any case lies on the perpetrator and not the victim. Sadly, in our society victim blaming is very common. Instead of holding the harasser accountable, people question the victim over dressing, moral values, being out at late hours and what not. Maya emphasizes again and again, THE ONLY PERSON TO BE QUESTIONED, CRITICIZED AND HELD ACCOUNTABLE SHOULD BE THE HARASSER, NOT THE VICTIM.
Although, no amount of sympathy can lessen the pain the victim has been through, but victim blaming only adds to the torture they have been enduring. If you don’t have anything supportive to say in these situations, please don’t say anything at all. The irony is that empathy is a word unknown to many.
Moreover, people argue that women are safe in their homes. The truth is that they are NOT. There have been so many cases, where their own family members have harassed them in all forms, verbal mental torture, physical abuse and even sexual abuse. Women are not safe anywhere in Pakistan, not even among the people they trust, their mahrams. It is the sad reality of the society we live in today that the people women entrusted their protection with, are the ones misusing that trust the most.
Unfortunately, despite all this, whenever such a case arises, victims are asked to stay silent in the name of patriarchy, so called “self-respect” of the family and the entitlement that “Men are men, you should have been careful.” This stigma needs to break, no one should remain silent on abuse of any kind. They should be encouraged to step forward and raise their voice against the abusers. Name and Shame is the way to go about, but instead the society is out there shouting “be silent”. Why should the victim remain silent? If there is anyone who should be ashamed, it is the harasser and that’s that.
With that being said, Maya sends out love and support for all the victims out there. Maya is here for you, with the promise of listening to your stories without any judgement. Our licensed therapists are here to listen, understand and help you regain yourself after the trauma. Download the app now and get in touch with us, because we care for you and your well-being. Let’s play our individual roles in this issue, to ensure we never see another Noor Mukadam, Zainab Ansari being a victim of the barbarity of these inhumane men.