It is with great regret that despite countless protests and petitions sent to the authorities for basic women rights and justice, all attempts have gone in vain and yet again we witness another woman facing the brunt of public harassment.
This situation depicts a dark and gloomy picture of our society where misogynistic patriarchal mindset and gender discrimination are deeply entrenched and might only change by some miracle or sheer luck.
On August 19, I woke up to yet another traumatising incident that left me aghast and choked with emotions. My heart has been crying ever since I viewed the #MinarePakistan viral video. A Tiktoker named Ayesha Akram, was assaulted mercilessly. She was groped and stripped by a mob of 400 thirsty and empathetic monsters while being tossed in midair.
What’s mortifying is that this barbaric act took place on the auspicious occasion of Independence Day at Minar-e-Pakistan. The mishappening took hours during which spectators watched with amusement and offered no help.
People have been expressing all kinds of sentiments on social media. However, the absurdity of some comments is appalling. While, the conventional misogynists were quick to blame the victim for leaving the house in the first place in an “un-Islamic” clothing; others quickly jumped on the bandwagon and accused Ayesha for pulling off a public stunt to grab the limelight. Shockingly, some people suggested that she deserved what happened since she was a TikToker.
It is outrageous how people actually believe that a woman can stoop to such low tactics to stage a national level of self-humiliating public stunt for a mere thousand social media followers and two weeks of fame?
This particular incident has not only enveloped the vulnerable majority with terror but triggered countless women who have been molested at some point in life. Women have expressed feelings of hopelessness, insecurity and even remorse due to extreme victim-blaming and gaslighting. I abhor such an act of gendered violence and bigotry. This clearly depicts the level of depravity, defiance and inhumanity rampant among the dominant gender.
Our culture guarantees that women’s safety lies under the patriarch, however, it becomes a catch-22 situation when the same figure, who is meant to protect, becomes the root cause of domestic violence. We are dupes of ‘honor culture’ where men find honor and shame in women’s bodies–hence they deem themselves ‘owners’ of it.
Ultimately, the patriarchal institutions provide immunity to perpetrators by solely focusing on why a particular woman was victimized? Accordingly, perhaps she was dressed inappropriately, unaccompanied by a non-mahram or ‘intentionally’ grabbing attention which provoked the “robotic” nature of men to succumb to lust.
Every day a girl is either raped, slaughtered or killed in the name of honor. I speak for all these oppressed voices who remain devoid of justice either due to stigma, biased patriarchal criminal justice system or are silenced by their own families to prevent loss of family honor and are scarred for life. I speak for countless Qandeels, Zainabs, Quratulains, Noors and Ayeshas who are scarred for life while their perpetrators roam freely. Justice must be served since justice delayed is justice denied.
At this point, it is pertinent to ask those who dismiss the issue by arguing, “Not all men”; what is the justification after a mob of men committed this barbaric act? All things aside, it is high-time that people are enlightened with the true essence of what the term ‘woman’ entails. Apparently, majority of the dominant patriarchal sex are still apathetic to its meaning. Daily news manifests that women are appraised as ‘objects of objectification’ or worse than animals.
Today, I realise why the slogan ‘Mera jism meri marzi’ is so important- until and unless women don’t take ownership of their own bodies, they can never be liberated from men.
This article is submitted by Soha Nisar
The writer is a degree-holder in Politics and International Relations from University of London and has remained associated with the National Assembly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute.