KARACHI: The conversation that is taking place everywhere in the country after the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kasur has largely been around prevention of such incidents through sex education. Parents are being advised to educate their children about the nature of physical touch and are being asked to be wary of strangers. However, these approaches — though still relevant — are not going to rid us of the ill of sexual harassment that plagues our society today.
Indeed, the need to educate your children about predatory behaviour to keep them safe is important and so is the need not to blindly trust strangers. But these approaches are one dimensional and also flawed.
Firstly, putting much importance on the need to educate children puts the onus on evading harassment on them. We are putting the responsibility on children to avoid harassment (read: victim blaming) instead of actually asking parents to teach their children, especially boys, about consent. It’s about time we stopped believing that men related to us can’t be harassers and hence, don’t bother sitting them down and educating them about ‘not harassing’.
Secondly, the myth that only strangers harass is problematic. There are numerous cases about family members, even fathers and brothers, raping women they are related to — which brings us back to the first point: the need to educate individuals, especially men, not to rape.
Men who harass do not do so because they have been taught to. These are men from our own society, our own neighbourhood and our own houses. They harass because they have been conditioned to believe they can do so and get away. And they often do. It’s about time this stopped if we wanted real change.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2018.