Last week anchors Imran Riaz Khan and Sami Ibrahim were condemned for making homophobic and rape jokes just because the ‘boys club’ could not have a decent debate and in return thought it was okay to make fun of child abuse and rape. The anchors, in order to avoid being interviewed by journalist Matiullah Jan, insinuated that the interviewer was raped in the army barracks back when he was a cadet at the Pakistan Military Academy. Imran and the group of journalists around him, including anchorperson Sami Ibrahim, could be heard laughing and ridiculing Jan, who then challenged them all to invite him on their shows. This incident made us see so-called ‘civilised men’ making rape jokes, clearly reflecting how a sensitive subject like rape and abuse was nothing more than a joke for them. The men seen in the video laughing about someone being raped are not only disgusting, but triggering for those who have actually gone through sexual violence.
Recently, two advertisements of a perfume company in India glorifying rape culture were taken down by the Indian ad regulatory body, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). In one of the ads, four men can be seen entering a store. They are shown having a dispute over who will take a ‘shot’. There are four of them, but only one ‘shot’ is available. During this debate, instead of the bottle of body spray, a woman is shown and it looks like they are having an argument over who will first rape the woman. The woman even turns around in anger, believing the four men are talking about her. However, she is then shown relieved, when one of the men picks up the body spray called ‘Shot’.
What is most appalling in the scenarios discussed is how normally it is being engrained in our society that promoting rape or making rape jokes is a trait of masculinity. We need to understand that women and men are afraid of sharing their ordeal when they are sexually assaulted because society ridicules them instead of showing empathy. The question remains, why? Why is society not accepting of the person who has been raped? Why do we find the need to ridicule and shame them? When will people understand that it is the rapist who needs to be rebuked, punished, and questioned, not the survivor. The day our society learns to provide the strength where it is required and stand with the survivors of sexual assaults, no one will be frightened to talk about their horrific experiences. It is time to stand up for all victims.