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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Women’s safety: A matter of grave concern for Pakistan

The safety of women has become a growing concern in Pakistan and we are witnessing an increased number of horrifying cases of sexual assaults every single day. In this regard, Ayaz Muhammad Khan highlights how important it has become for law enforcement agencies to come up with strict punishments for those who commit these heinous crimes because women's safety is an important matter of concern.

The assault on a girl on the 14thof August at Minar e Pakistan left the nation traumatized. It was incomprehensible to think that a group of people could do this, and no one would have the courage or the inclination to try to save the girl. The failure of our so-called SOS emergency system was another sore point. The social media went into overdrive, the video of the assault went viral & soon we had everyone clamoring for the harshest punishment for the perpetrator of this heinous and atrocious act. The most worrying sign was that this kind of thing keeps on happening & nothing seems to be done to put a stop to it.

We have to analyze the issue objectively to correct our course to somehow proceed towards some solution. First of all, somehow whenever some heinous act like this happens, we tend to either by design or by manipulation go into a debate about putting the blame squarely on the GOP & the whole issue becomes a political propaganda tool. The netizens have some planted cyber team members who are not at all interested in solving any issue but are paid to blow up and drag an issue.

Read more: Domestic violence could rise as people confined to homes

Strict actions must be taken before its too late

They contribute their part by discussing whether it is victim blaming, whether women are totally unsafe in Pakistan, makes memes sometimes funny but making no addition towards solving the problem. Most of them do not try to open an issue related discussion on the issue, analyzing the problem and suggesting a solution but just vent their feeling by condemnation. They don’t even want to know the facts but issue sweeping statements putting the blame on somebody they feel is responsible.

When you hear all the saintly remarks of the netizens it seems none of them has ever disrespected women making one wonder then who are all these masses who disrespect and mistreat women? The problem is not being tackled as everyone makes a political matter out of it and nobody is seriously assisting to solve it.

Everyone knows the challenges that women face in Pakistan or in India or Bangladesh for that matter. It’s a societal thing, it’s an attitude problem. Societal changes are not made overnight, it’s a generational thing. It takes a lot of time, effort, education, rewards, and punishment which runs simultaneously before societal changes take place. Due to our narrow aim to gain political mileage out of any incident we just lose focus and fail to initiate meaningful debate which will lead to steps that will assist in bringing about societal change. These steps need to be supported by every strata of the society to be able to effectively change the trend.

Read more: Emma Watson welcomes new guidelines to tackle harassment

A wakeup call for law enforcement agencies

The biggest discouragement can be punishment. At this point in time assault on women or a lesser crime eve teasing both are not taken seriously by the law enforcement agencies. Eve teasing is rife on every street, every locality on every nook and corner of the country and at all times. Police do absolutely nothing. They do sometimes use these to grab some people just to earn money. There is a crowd of riff raffs in front of women’s colleges, schools, and even their place of work.

There is supposed to be a separate door for women in buses. It’s a joke, it’s full of boys and men, pushing, touching, shoving, making the life of women miserable. Some of the incidents get highlighted and are discussed more but honestly none of the girls and women who are not rich enough to have adequate protection are safe from these hooligans from abusing them. It’s happening day and night. We have to make stringent laws on eve teasing and strictly implement them. It should not become a way for the corrupt police force to make money.

The punishment should be swift and without discrimination. That’s actually the base from which matters deteriorate to such an extent where a mob assault on women takes place like in Minar e Pakistan. In Western countries, there are sex offenders list that can be obtained as public record. Why can’t it be implemented in Pakistan? In cases where a lot of publicity has taken place as in the Minar e Pakistan case, the guilty party should be punished quickly and swiftly. A sex offender list with different categories can be a severe deterrent for something as serious as assault taking place.

Read more: Barriers to women education, health and gender equity in Pakistan

The narrative of victim blaming must stop 

We should open discussion on TV channels on factors responsible for this kind of incident happening. We can bring parents on board, we can educate the youth, the government and the opposition can work together on this for the betterment of society. Blaming each other will get us nowhere. The discussion will create awareness and will be pivotal in bringing about changes in society. Discussing factors never means victim blaming. It’s a shame that our women don’t feel safe going out to celebrate our own Independence Day.

It’s the responsibility of the leaders to provide them safety. The government and the opposition alike. No government in the history of Pakistan has been able to provide our women with safety. The netizens go into a frenzy over an incident and soon something else happens and they forget about it. There is no follow up as for most the issue of not problem solving but just muckraking and a storm in the teacup.

Read more: Girl sexually assaulted at Minar-e-Pakistan by mob on 14th August

Pressure groups can force the government to act. The liberal groups of Pakistan never tried to obtain any safe ambiance for the middle class and poor women of Pakistan. Why is that? The disrespect of women stems from how a person is brought up & eve teasing is the first step towards worse crimes.

Why has nobody ever tried to stop eve teasing by using punishment as a deterrent? Just Blaming Imran Khan Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari is meaningless as this festering wound of society is our own fault. We have to get together and take steps to retrieve the situation otherwise it will continue as it is.

The author has worked for Unilever for 25 years. He is a professional translator/interpreter of five languages and is also a certified computer trainer. He is currently living in Virginia, USA. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.