My problem with your staring problem

Whether I am wearing jeans with a shirt or am covered in a burqa, I feel eyes just staring me down.

Saba Fatima Ali February 22, 2012
My daily walk from my point stop to my apartment is nothing less than torture for me; not because I am exhausted after a tiring day at college and my legs are unable to bear that five-minute stress; but because the dear men of my beloved nation are suffering from the staring syndrome.


Whether I am wearing jeans with a shirt or am covered in a burqa, there are three points in that five-minute walk where I feel people eyeing me with extreme interest. The first is an under construction building, where poor and deprived labourers clearly get bored with their work all day long. The second is a showroom and its prolific guards who like to watch girls instead of thieves and intruders; the third is our area's cobbler who I am sure has some serious vision problems because once his eyes get fixed at a point, they simply cannot deviate from it. And this is not it. Occasionally, an old toothless man or young, pre-pubescent boy walks by passing lewd comments.

I am sure half of the girls who are reading this are nodding or smiling by now  at the thought of similar situations that they go through. Whether it is a populated bazaar or a high-end mall, we all get stared and commented at by all sorts of men.  They could be labourers, shopkeepers, young boys on motorcycles with tight shirts and big shades or an occasional old man with greying hair and the works. You name it and we have it.

Most of us are used to the atrocious staring. But it really makes me wonder where we are headed as a nation. We don't like to stand in queues, traffic signals are for losers, the police is shrugged off for a mere Rs100, staring at any person who looks different from us is the new rule, dustbins are outdated, and sorries, thank yous and pleases do not exist; these habits are reflective of a lack of manners. We make our own rules -  everything else can be easily disregarded.

Our nation is not progressing, it's regressing - in terms of morals and civic sense.

However, the moment we get a ticket to somewhere else, we turn into the most well-behaved and respectable citizen of that nation. Traffic rules, dustbins and etiquette, all remind us of their existence with a bang. Voila! The fear of being kicked out of there is what straightens out the most curved of the lot.

It is sad how we take our own land, which has been a home to us for more than 60 years, for granted each day.

I realise this country has a lot of problems and many things are happening today which are out of our hands. We can’t do anything about them even if we wanted to. However I also realise that as individuals, we can do something to improve out basic morals and habits.


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Saba Fatima Ali A final year medical student at Dow Medical College. She tweets @SabaFatimaAli (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Vikram | 11 years ago | Reply @Saba Fatima Ali(The Writer): "I make sure to not look back again but the feeling of their eyes following me follows me up till I reach the inside of my home" Eyes following, is that your imagination or reality.On a second thought I can see that your feelings are very real. I am just looking at problem from a different angle.Looking back can send a wrong signal some times because when some one likes some one they look back too.
Vikram | 11 years ago | Reply @Muslim: "Muslim men have to lower their gaze to ALL women. This is the command of the Allmighty as mentioned in the Holy Quran." What percentage of Muslim men, you think" actually "lower their gaze" when they see a woman? If Muslim men "lower their gaze" why is there a need for burqa or a mehram to accompany a woman all the time. Please don't include shy men in the percentage.
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