Trigger warning: discussion of sexual harassment
On Thursday, a video from the Instagram account sab.chutzpah.hai went viral on social media. The clip, shared by the anonymous account of a woman, detailed her account of a visit to F-9 park in Islamabad, where a man flashed her, then kept following her around as she ran to her car and tried to look around for police authorities, but found no one present for help.
The incident prompted a response from the Islamabad police who wrote in the comment section that they wished to get in touch with the survivor to arrest the culprit.
When The Current reached out to A*, she revealed that the incident took place on the June 26.
She recounted that she visited the park to walk a bit around afternoon before attending her class at the university. She had been walking around the track which was near the parking lot, when suddenly she realised that someone was closely walking behind her.
“There weren’t a lot of people in the park that day, and not even police men,” said A. “Which is odd because police officers are constantly patrolling the park and questioning people about their coming and going.”
The woman recalled that the man was walking next to her as if they were together, and suddenly he came close to her and said “Aap ko jism dubwana hai [Do you want your body massaged]”?
“I remembered being completely taken aback and shocked by this,” recounted A. “Then I threatened him to leave or I’ll call the police. But he was already aware of the fact there were no police officers present at the park and he didn’t stop walking behind me as I rushed to my car. I was frantically rushing to my car, while trying to find some police man standing around who could stop this man, but there were two cars there and in one a driver was present, and I was afraid that he might be involved with the man.”
A said she sat in her car and tried to start it, but the man stood outside her window and kept jerking off as he looked at her directly.
“I was incredibly worried and scared of what was going on,” she said. “So then I decided to make proof of this and recorded a video. I tried to hide behind the window blinds so he can’t notice, but he did and he tried to conceal his face, but I made the video. My car started immediately and when I came to the gate, there was no police man in sight even though it was afternoon.”
A chose to remain anonymous and did not want her identity to be revealed to the police, as she hasn’t revealed the incident to her family, and decided to share this video with a public account instead.
“They had shared a similar video of a man assaulting a woman,” she said. “That’s when I decided that I should share my experience with them.”
On whether officials from the Islamabad Police had reached out for more details, A said they had informed the admin of the page that an FIR had been launched and a man hunt was underway in search of the harasser.
She recounted that the incident had taken a toll on her mental health:
“I feel so conscious about men around me now,” confessed A. “I don’t go out now without my mother.”
Previously, a gang-rape case in February had drawn anger from activists and residents of Islamabad, when a woman and her colleague were attacked by two armed men, who raped her at gunpoint.
A senior police official from the Islamabad Police told The Current that since the culprit has been identified in a video, all efforts will be made to catch him. “We will get all evidence from him regarding the immoral incident. Once the actions have been established what he was doing, we will charge him and then file a case for trial. We would encourage the victim to reach out to us directly and report it without going public but if she doesn’t, even then we will follow the law that will lead to prosecution subjected to availability of evidence.”
The police official also said that the judiciary should also ensure in such cases that perpetrators are punished so that such harassment incidents must be discouraged and such practices must be stopped. “We would encourage all victims to report harassment incidents so that we can take proper action against perpetrators of harassment. In any civilised society, there are laws that deal with flashing or masturbation in public and other forms of harassment. We hope that our judiciary also makes a commitment to punishing harassers as it is against the norms, values and laws of Pakistan.”