Pakistan has seen a rise in cases of sexual harassment and violence against women. This is alarming on two counts. One, bashing by international media damages the country’s image overseas; second, a deeper sense of disenchantment and insecurity for women across the country.
Pakistan came into being on the principles of Islam. It was created for the protection of Muslims, to practice their religion and attain their social, civil and human rights. The egalitarian and peaceful society, that Pakistan was envisaged as, is yet to be materialised.
Islam puts a special emphasis on women’s rights. And yet, staring, a form of harassment, is common at workplace, educational institutions, markets and elsewhere. Sexual abuse, another name for rape, is rooted in women being seen as commodities.
Various cases of sexual harassment have come forth recently. Gone are the days when a crime against a woman committed would be pressed, but would go unnoticed in this age of social media.
The West is no exception when it comes to sexual abuse against women. But they are much better in implementation of the law
Most victims of sexual abuse are killed ruthlessly after being raped. Cases of sexual abuse against children have also gone up. The perpetrator is usually a family member.
Unfortunately, women are perceived as inferior in the society. They are not given the same rights as men. The latter continue to dominate and vie to control women.
The West is no exception when it comes to sexual abuse against women. But they are much better in implementation of the law that protects women, because they have strong institutions.
Even though many gruesome cases of sexual harassment have taken place in Pakistan, a few have broken all bounds of humanity. The Zainab Rape Case in 2018 and the Sialkot Motorway Gang Rape Case last year were especially horrific. If they weren’t enough, the Ayesha Akram sexual harassment incident at Minar e Pakistan has further jolted the nation.
This cannot be an Islamic country where such social evils prevail throughout the state. Harsh punishments such as lynching or castration should be given to the perpetrators by the government. But more importantly, awareness regarding sexual harassment must be spread across the society.
Respect for women’s rights must be taught at schools. Parents should sensitise their children at home as well. Efforts to eradicate domestic violence must be promoted.
Seminars and conferences at national level should be held in every institution to enhance awareness regarding sexual harassment. Misuse of social media and applications that cause sexual disposition must be looked into. Last, but most important, the writ and will of the state must be implemented in letter and spirit.