Rape is sex without consent — period

A government based on secular beliefs is urgently needed so that the state can take it upon itself to protect women.


Mashal Sahir September 19, 2013
The writer is a poet and is currently studying law at the University of Sheffield. She has previously worked at the Daily Times

In the words of Ronald Dworkin, “rape is not committed by psychopaths or deviants from our social norms — rape is committed by exemplars of our social norms. Rape is no excess, no aberration, no accident, no mistake — it embodies sexuality as the culture defines it”. Recently a five-year-old girl was brutally raped in Lahore, leaving the citizens both shocked and enraged.

There is a common misconception that rape is a sexual crime. Rape is, in fact, a gender-based crime, based on enforcing male dominance in society. It not only affects the direct victim but also affects the position of women collectively. Such acts of violence instigate fear in women and ensure that they are not able to enjoy freedom. In our society, rape is used as an instrument to enforce the subordination of women to men.



It is common practice in patriarchal societies to treat women as property rather than as human beings with equal rights to men. In such societies, it is not shocking that men who treat women as mere property feel entitled to not only dictating their lives but also to accessing their bodies.

Needless to say, what happened to the little girl in Lahore is one of the most heinous crimes possible and deserves the severest of punishments. However, a silver lining is the fact that people are openly condemning such acts. More often than not, rape has been at the center of controversy in Pakistan; the citizens of this country weren’t always so vocal about such issues and the media discussed them in hushed tones. Sadly, we still have a long way to go before we can even come close to resolving such problems. On the one hand, it is progressive that people no longer believe that there is anything offensive about condemning rape publicly, however, on the other hand not all rape victims receive the same support. Where the rape of a child instigates sentiments of fury in the general public, the case is very different where a mature female is involved. Usually, the general public appears to be hesitant when attributing blame in such cases and the victim is looked upon with much doubt by society. More often than not the victim is treated as the culprit with people blaming the victim for inviting the assault.

This reflects the overall mentality of society when it comes to objectifying women. It needs to be understood that a woman, like a man, has rights over her body and no one has the right to violate those rights regardless of her physical appearance or character. When people justify rape based on such foolish notions, what they are basically saying is that when a woman appears ‘provocative’ enough, a man is left with no choice but to rape her.

Similarly, marital rape is not even considered rape in our society where a woman is expected to submit to her husband’s will and does not have the ‘luxury’ to say no. It needs to be understood that the basic definition of rape is sex without consent, no matter who the culprit is and that it is a crime punishable by law regardless of the character of the victim. Due to this sorry state of affairs, numerous rape cases are never even reported as people try to avoid the shame the victim is put through once such a case becomes public. In our country, the bigger ordeal begins after the rape has been committed.

There is an urgent need for a government based on secular beliefs so that the state can take it upon itself to ensure women enjoy equal status to men. There is also an urgent need to reform the education system, to create awareness among people in order to ensure that, at least, the new generation is not built on sexist beliefs. Such chauvinistic attitudes cannot be eliminated till society is educated enough to understand that a man and woman are equal in every respect and that no gender is dominant in society. Such an outcome cannot be achieved until and unless we are governed by a secular system. There is absolutely no other way to stop this abuse.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2013.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

COMMENTS (38)

Sheikh | 8 years ago | Reply

Author is screwed up with twisted mind and heavily intoxicated with secular ideas without having a sound basis of her ideas .The secular belief societies have not produced angels living in flawless societies .The problems is in USA France and Europe people with little knowledge of issues do not not write articles without doing a through and analytical search on the subject and don't demean their own societies .Author should have looked at the statistics of crime including rape http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap-crime-rapes“ then should have made some conclusion .It is a nonsense peace of writing and misleading the soviet , using elegant English language skills but no analytical skills to justify this garbage.

Amna | 8 years ago | Reply

Unfortunately, the author and many others in our society have formed this view after studying the West and hearing many Westerner's point of view. If we all studied Islam for what is really is (most molvis have a very distorted view of Islam), we would not need to gather this information and form such views from the West, we would have it way before them.

VIEW MORE COMMENTS
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read