The shocking rape of a 14-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped by her father and brother, has once again proven that there is no safe space for women in Pakistan. The girl, a resident of Azad Kashmir, was taken to a hospital by her mother after she complained of stomachache. Doctors discovered that the girl was pregnant and about to give birth. Investigation revealed that the victim’s brother and father raped her several times during the last few months. The DNA of the baby she birthed matches that of her brother’s. Imagine the horror and fear of the girl who was not safe in her own house and where her own father and brother were her rapists and tormentors.
Pakistan has staggering statistics that expose the rape epidemic in the country. In October last year, almost 21,900 women were reported to have been raped in Pakistan from 2017 to 2021. This meant that approximately 12 women were raped every day, or one every two hours, throughout the country. According to media reports, approximately 350 rape instances were recorded in Punjab, between May 2022 and August 2022. The Current records the tally of rape cases that are reported in news outlets on a daily basis to highlight the alarming situation. And not a single day goes by when rape isn’t reported in any city but that too doesn’t represent the actual figures because not all rape cases are reported. It’s hard to imagine what the real figures must be. Women around the country are raped, abused, and harassed every day, enduring it incessantly because the state and society has failed to ensure their safety. Occasionally, a rape case emerges in the media that elicits particular fury and ignites massive protests, while exposing the culpability of our society; the cradle for rape culture, the breeding ground that lets rapists get away by promoting victim-blaming.
Everything about this incident tells the the horrifying story of impunity with which Pakistani men commit crimes, without an ounce of remorse. And then there are men like Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) Nabil Gabol, who have the audacity to pass disgusting comments about rape. In a recent interview, Gabol casually remarked: “When rape is inevitable, just enjoy it.” How can one be so heartless to say such sickening words? Gabol’s words garnered massive backlash, and rightly so. Pakistanis were angry, and outraged at the politician’s lack of sensitivity. The PPP politician apologised for his remarks later, saying that he regretted if his words had hurt women. But then he went on to blame Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters for launching a social media campaign against him. After issuing an apology for his misogynistic remarks, Nabil Gabol decided to defend his statement with a screenshot of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s interview with Time Magazine. Gabol wrote that Aurat March organisers or journalists had not called Khan out for his past problematic statements. Gabol further said if he lost weight and looked handsome like Khan, then the backlash wouldn’t have happened. This non-apology and attack on women who raise their voice for victims of abuse shows that Gabol only apologised because of the backlash on social media but didn’t mean it. As if his non-apology was not enough, Gabol’s son Nadir came out to defend his father’s thoughtlessness and said that his father had intended to say: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” It is shocking that even today men have the audacity to utter such nauseating words.
And yet, we question and pass comments on the severity of the situation. To the hopelessness and rage that fills our hearts, may women find security, protectiveness and justice in this country. Will this ever stop, is a question we ask ourselves often. Our society and justice system have failed the women of Pakistan. It is because of these attitudes that Pakistan ranks as the second-worst country on the gender gap index. Are you surprised?
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