Pakistani women are angry and rightly so. We feel violated, we feel triggered, we are seething, we are shouting but we feel as if no one listens. Every day, there is a hashtag asking for justice for women who have been victims of abuse, domestic violence, sexual violence. We are not mere hashtags; violence against women in Pakistan is an epidemic now.
On August 14, a female TikToker was sexually assaulted and harassed by hundreds of men at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. An FIR has been registered. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar have vowed to catch the culprits. But is this enough? No, it is not! A woman was groped, assaulted, harassed for more than two hours by 300-400 men and nobody could stop it. Let this sink in. Hundreds of men and more than two hours! Imagine her trauma, imagine her pain, imagine her helplessness, imagine how she has been scarred for life. We cannot even imagine what she must be going through and can only show solidarity with her by our words. The state has to act against the culprits who committed this heinous crime.
We are angry because there is a societal and systematic rot that we must fight every second, every minute, every hour, every day! Women in Pakistan are not safe in their graves, they are not safe in public spaces, they are not safe in their homes, they are not safe in their cars, they are not safe. Period.
This is a country where the prime minister says that if a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on men unless they are robots. When he is called out for being a rape apologist, women parliamentarians come out to defend his statement. When he later changes his stance and says that no matter what a woman wears or “how provocative she is”, the person who commits rape is responsible, we are told that his statement is a “slap in the face of the detractors and critics”. Should we celebrate that the prime minister did not indulge in victim-blaming again and for once laid the responsibility on the perpetrator instead of women? We live in a society where women are blamed for stepping out of their house, for their dress, for just being a woman! When women question this mindset, all we hear are justifications for the crime!
Let it be said once and for all: ENOUGH! We have had enough of this. We ask our state and our leaders and our society to end this epidemic.