While the Faisalabad incident wherein four women were beaten and allegedly stripped naked has generated widespread anger, a section of social media appears to justify the action after the emergence of a new video purportedly showing the women committing theft at a shop.
On Tuesday, social media erupted with anger when a video went viral that showed four women being paraded naked through a market in Faisalabad.
Journalist Amber Rahim Shamsi wrote, “Violence, humiliation and voyeurism as punishment happens when women are seen as meat”.
One social media user expressed her fears following the incident.
The incident took place in Fasilabad’s Bawa Chak market on Monday and a First Information Report (FIR) was registered by the police against the five identified and ten unidentified suspects.
The event happened when four women went to Bawa Chak Market on Monday to collect garbage. According to reports, the women entered a shop and asked the owner for water to drink but instead, he accused them of theft and started beating them. Upon hearing the commotion, the other suspects also came to the site, and together they stripped the women and dragged them through the market.
Later some people on social media seemed to be justifying the incident after fresh footage emerged in which the women could purportedly be seen trying to steal from the cashier counter.
Blaming the victim
This is not the first time certain sections of society have blamed women for the violence inflicted upon them.
The country’s first celebrity-by-social-media, Qandeel Baloch, was killed at the age of 26 by her brother in July 2016. It was a so-called ‘honour killing’ as the murderer felt that the videos and photographs she had been posting online brought disrespect to their family. After her murder, many commentators online said that she asked for it because her videos on social media were ‘too bold’.
Last year, on September 9, a woman was ganged-raped while traveling on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway. In this incident too, victim-blaming was witnessed. Many including the then CCPO Lahore blamed her for the incident, saying that she went out late at night without a male companion. The CCPO questioned why she had not taken a busier road, given that she had been alone with her children, or checked her fuel before departing.
When Noor Mukadam, a 27-year-old woman and daughter of Pakistan’s former ambassador to South Korea, was brutally killed in Islamabad on July 20, many blamed her presence in the house for the gruesome crime.
Many rights activists in Pakistan blame Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “victim-blaming” for the rise in violence against women in the country. “If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the men, unless they are robots,” Khan said during an interview for documentary-news series Axios.
“PM Khan and his ministers continue to make anti-women remarks that encourage misogyny, and in a way violence against women, in Pakistan,” said activist Shazia Khan.
Parading women naked a took to exert power
The practice of stripping women naked and parading them is often used as a tool to exert control on them and punish them in conservative areas of the country, particularly the rural region.
Earlier this year, three men in Dera Ismail Khan stripped naked a woman, in a street full onlooker, because of her husband’s alleged relationship with their sister.
In another similar incident that happened in a Dera Ismail Khan village on October 27, 2017, around a dozen armed men had broken into the home of a local woman, stripped her naked, and paraded her around the village over a water dispute