Another female narrated her incident on Facebook with the photos of men who harassed her. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

He flashed his private parts at her and told her that raping her would please him – no big deal, right?

The comments under my sister's post were telling her to wear a dupatta, because that's what protects women, right?

Rida K. September 17, 2017
The other day, I was randomly scrolling through Facebook when I came across a long post by girl who had been harassed on her way to work by a guy on a bike who flashed his private parts at her. So common, right? Let us just keep scrolling, my brain hinted. There was a video attached to the post as well, and it automatically began playing before I could scroll past it.

As I watched the video, I realised that the car looked oddly familiar, and then I realised that the girl was in fact my own sister. I kept watching as anger engulfed me. I did not realise what I just saw, all of a sudden, every traumatic memory I had came back to me, and once again, I was that girl who was groped inside a school van.

Photo: Screenshot

I know that this is common. I know it happens to numerous people on a daily basis. But this was different, this was my sister.

As soon as I collected myself, I called her up to see if she was doing any better. She was not; I could tell from the silence at the end of the line that she was numb. She could barely formulate words, but she did tell me one thing – her silence was not out of fear. She said it was mere anger for the man who thought it was his birthright to call out lewd remarks at her friend sitting in the passenger seat.

Even though the man seemed to be sure of what he was doing, that is, harassing two women who did him no wrong at all, he was also embarrassed to associate himself with his actions. So when the girls started making a video, he turned his face sideways. This raises an important question – do men continue doing these things while knowing fully that they are in the wrong, and if they were exposed, they would have to go through immense shame? He knew that he would not get caught, he would have to endure no consequences. Because obviously, two women were not capable of catching a mighty man on the street and obviously, our legal system was not going to do anything either. Then why did he hide his face?

The only possible explanation is that in Pakistan, and all over the world, men are given the higher ground. They are superior beings, they can do anything and everything and the world will still blame the women, telling them that they are at fault. So he had nothing to worry about because he knew a ‘worse scenario’ for him did not exist and never will.

The comments under the original post were telling my sister to wear a dupatta, because that is what ultimately protects the woman. What I fail to understand is, why are men still telling women what to do to be safe, when they can call out other men for making the city an unsafe place for the ‘other’ gender?

The first thing that came to my mind when I read the post was that her anger is justified. Imagine having to go through someone flashing their private body parts at you and implying that sexually assaulting you would give them pleasure. How is our society so indifferent towards incidents like this? At this point, people do not even bother because what does not directly affect them apparently does not matter.

When my sister finally got to work, people asked her why she was late and she had to say something. Firstly, she was completely traumatised and had to go through several different routes to dodge the perpetrator. And secondly, some men had the audacity to tell her that she should have been carrying a weapon on her, someone even stated that she should have had a rod to hit the man with. I would love to thank them for their consideration…

I do have one question for them though – how many men do they know in Karachi who travel with a rod in one hand and manage a steering wheel and the gears in the other? Clearly, women were born with more problems in their lives but not enough hands to handle those problems.

After all, it was not that bad. The man did not touch her or physically assault her. Why was she making a huge deal about it? Because whether people want to accept the reality or not, harassment is a big deal. Always has been and always will be. Victims should not be silenced, instead the perpetrators should be punished.

All of this has been prevailing in our streets for so long that women have become accustomed to such treatment. But that does not make it okay or acceptable. A little groping here and there in public is just the way it is supposed to be, right? My sister is not the only person I know who has gone through this kind of situation. When I was in the seventh grade, my friend, who was the same age as me, encountered a fully-grown man trying to unzip his trousers to show her his private parts. Imagine – a little girl being exposed to something like that. Imagine the trauma. It was a narrow street and she could not do much so she tried to ignore him and kept on walking.

Incidents like these have scarred women for years and they are still not given the acknowledgement that they deserve. Another friend once narrated a similar incident. She was on her way to work when a man began following her. Apparently, her lipstick was just too tempting for him. Apparently, her make-up was an excuse for him to catcall her when he shouted,
Gulabi hont, humein bhi chaat lou!

(Rosy lips, lick us too!)

Imagine going out of your way, following a car to a place that is not your desired destination, just to shout out lecherous remarks to a girl who is minding her own business.

How many more cases will it take for us to understand that this is difficult? With the number of harassment cases increasing day by day, there are still voices that are unheard or too scared to speak up. If more women out there spoke up about their experiences, society would understand how much a victim is affected by something like this. So much so, that there are many women out there who hate the existence of the male gender because of what a few have put them through.

I know that things are changing. In fact, women are rising and I sincerely hope that one day, our voices will be louder and stronger than the entitlement that men in Pakistan have.

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COMMENTS (92)

Memona | 2 years ago | Reply | Recommend Oh please don’t make me laugh and importantly don’t waste my time with your silly assumptions, kindly stick to adult conversation. You are talking as if you have seen the future. Pakistan is not as big as India with multiple religions to be divided in future OR too small to cease to exist. The the problem with you hindus is you get too emotional too quickly and make big assumptions based on your hatred. After what you hindus have been through out the centuries by foreigners you should not even make any ill assumptions against other countries. Remember you were once a slave. Modi is nothing but a tea vendor, Murderer and a failed leader who is taking credit of everything done by Congress with empty patriotic slogans and playing religion card. if he stick around an other 10 yrs India will be in civil war that’s my presumption he already made things worst for Muslims.
vinsin | 2 years ago So your ancestors were never a slave? You support slavery. Whom did Modi murder? What credit did he take? Which religious card did he play? So why Muslims vote for him?
layla hai | 2 years ago | Reply | Recommend I am sorry if it comes off from my comment that I "accept" the behavior of men. That is not what I wanted to say. But you can not argue the instinctual needs of a creature called "man". It is a scientific fact that woman stimulates the sexual nerve centres in the brain of all NORMAL men. I believe ideally, no man should be allowed to even look at a woman even if she is walking around naked. But this idealism just wouldn't work in real society. People in a real society have varied beliefs and prejudices. A naked woman may look like an invitation to most men. Similarly in our society, women with makeup and women with accessories to bejewel them comes off as an invitation to many (not all) men. There is a difference in what should the society be like, and what it can actually be. I have heard majority of men in our society think a woman publicly wearing a lipstick is inviting them for attention. It just is what it is. We cant change it no matter how much we may dislike it. It is just better and wiser to protect yourself because survival demands wisdom. And wisdom is to protect yourself instead of changing others. You cant eliminate hungry sharks from the sea but you can take protective measures to protect yourself. Similarly I believe this mind set can only be eradicated by imparting extremely high levels of morality in children right from the start. Since according to psychology, a child's personality completely develops by the age of 7 years. Unless we radically change our schooling systems and introduce ethics and morality at an early age, we just can't expect the society to change to our liking. And yes you are right on point when you say that mothers must groom their sons to be better citizens. I am married and I can say my husband is an exemplary man. So I do believe that such respectful men exist in our society as well. It is only a matter of nurture and imparting an elevated sense of morality right from a very young age. That sense of morality can not be imparted when you are going to the two extremes. I do believe that very high fashion women in our society are actually a degradation of women. They serve no useful purpose to the betterment of society and usually only work to impress others by the brands of clothing they wear and the brands of lipstick they wear. I have seen women in complete burkas here who have earned degrees in science fields. Also makeup does hint at sexuality. Not a hint actually, it is sexual. You yourself said that makeup shouldnt be viewed as sexual but then you went on and explained how arab women make their eyes look seductive by makeup. See the clash in your own thinking? Well to further prove my point that makeup DOES denote sexuality, you can search a lot of brands of lipsticks and many have names like "seductive", "charming", "flirty" , "nude" ,"sensational", sultry and even the word "sex". Would you deny the sexual connotation?. Now I am not saying that wearing makeup is evil but there are certain limitations as to where you should be wearing it and on which occasion. If you are wearing it at a family gathering then good, but if you show off a full face of makeup in a bazar then I think that strongly reeks of a attention-seeker. As for Saudia, the best thing here is that even though there are ultra rich people here, you would never see any show of money, brands, or clothes at any place. Sure women do wear all that they want and carry thousands of dollars worth of purses, but not in public, at their family gatherings, which I think is very elegant and graceful. Secondly I don't know where the famous arab eye makeup got famous but I have not seen any saudi woman with any eye makeup even in the most modern city of KSA. Yes some women wear a lot of makeup and guess what, they are usually Pakistanis! Arab women have a sense of grace that dims women of other nationalities. simply because arab women, as I have observed, are very simple and contented.
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