Pakistani celebrities were set to gather at Karachi press club on Monday evening to mark what would be their second protest against the motorway incident. I was a bit early to the venue and hence saw another protest underway, this one organised by the trans community to condemn the recent killings, harassment and assault.
As celebrities started rolling in, the other protest - much to the dismay of the attendees - was sidelined as all the eyeballs as well as the cameras were directed towards the who's and who of the showbiz industry. Yasir Hussain, alongside PR mogul, Frieha Altaf were among the first ones to arrive at the venue. However, Frieha wasn't pleased to have been a part of such a protest again.
"It saddens me, it angers me to have to raise my voice against such barbaric incidents," the former supermodel told The Express Tribune. "I shouldn't have to organise such protests but I have no other choice since the law and order situation in this country doesn't seem to get any better. There are similar horrific cases every other day and it's time we make some noise to put an end to it." Talking about the public hanging of the rapists, Frieha commented she's not the one in favour of such brutality. "We saw in Zainab's case. Hanging the culprit does not bring the needed change, that is not the solution. After Zainab's case, we saw a rise in 16% of the rape cases. We have to find answers elsewhere."
Sarwat Gilani was another known face who showed up to support the cause. "It's high time we come out. We have always been termed as a resilient nation. We aren't resilient. We are complacent. We should have been protesting for a long time," she said. Like Frieha, Gillani was also not in favour of the public hanging of rapists. "I am not in the favour of public hanging of the rapists," the Churails star shared, emphasising the need to educate the masses. "I feel it's high time we introduce sex education in the schools. We need to teach our children what does good touch, bad touch mean. We need to have conversations with our children. We need to raise boys better. There is so much we - as a society - need to learn. Should there be an example set for such a grave crime? Yes. But we need to be more mindful of what the long-term solution might be."
Yasir Hussain thought there needs to be long-term policy to tackle such heinous crimes and rallied for changes in the education system. "We need to bring in sex education in our curricula. The issue of not having a conversation regarding sex is so deep-rooted in our society that we shy away from such topics whereas they should be prioritised," Yasir said. "We've always taught our women how to walk, how to talk, what to wear, what not to wear when we should have made our men think about the very same things. We should make our men understand how to respect women," the Lahore Se Aagay star remarked. "No man should dare stare a woman."
"Public hangings increase violence because it brutalises society, making people more and more insensitive," Sheema Kermani shared with the publication. "But I believe that the culprits should be apprehended, they should be given due punishments through the legal procedure. Right now, there is so much anger building up, that people were more likely to join the bandwagon on hanging the culprit, but we have to reason. Revenge is not the answer, justice is. We have to understand that rape is an act of power. When women are raped, it is because the rapists aren't apprehended. They are allowed to roam free. We need actions on this, firstly."
Ayesha Omar, too, thought raising awareness is the long-term solution. "Like my fellow artists, I don't believe public hanging is the solution, educating the masses is. We need to spread awareness about this and raise better children, better boys. That would be the long-term answer to the rape culture."
The recent cases made Mahira Khan make a comeback on Twitter. "I really feel like coming back and writing there. You can hang them, you can publicly kill them, will it end the rape culture? I don't think so. However, yes, I do think we need to make an example. We aren't setting enough examples," the Verna star said, adding, "If the government decided on the public hanging of the culprits, that might be fair but I feel this is a very deep-rooted problem. The issue is in the mindsets and that needs to be tackled first. I think we need to visit our curricula, how men (even the educated ones) act around women - this all needs to change ultimately."
Mahira went on to add, "We constantly associate shame with abuse, anything to do with "sex". We are talking about sexual abuse, not the other way around. The topic itself is so vast." The actor called for the producers to revisit our narratives on what we show on films and TV. "When I say that we need to change narratives, I mean we need to see who are our heroes? Are they always going to be hitting their wives, abusing them? Will they always cheat on them? Who are these men?" the Bin Roye actor shared, concluding, "We can show whatever we want. We just have to be mindful of it"
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