Clicking on rape

Published February 28, 2015
NGO workers perform during an anti-rape protest in Lahore. —AFP
NGO workers perform during an anti-rape protest in Lahore. —AFP

In Punjab, it is no longer enough to gang rape a girl; it is also necessary to make a video of it. And what good is that visual record, if it is not shared with the world.

The men of Pakistan await, their fingers eagerly pressing buttons and sliding over screens, goaded by insatiable appetites that crave the violation of a woman’s body.

They watch it again and again, they share it with friends.

For them, there is no shame in the consumption of rape, no evil in its dissemination, no cruelty then in its continued propagation.

This is not a hypothesis, but a truth. A story reported by the BBC reveals exactly why. Sadia (name has been changed to protect the victim's privacy), a young girl living in a village in rural Pakistan was gang raped by a number of men.

They made a video of the rape and then shared it via Bluetooth and various cell phone-enabled social media. It went viral. Thousands of Pakistanis clicked on it, watched it and yes even shared it far and wide.

Making a video of a gang rape, watching a video of a gang rape, sharing a video of a gang rape, bears no moral cost in Pakistan.


Pakistan’s vigilant censors, who demonstrate such alacrity in imposing other bans, have none for this crime.

The video continues to be available on the Internet both for viewing and sharing, its consumers unafraid and unashamed to participate, in this viral desecration of a young woman.

Sadia’s story is not the only one. The armchair rapists of Pakistani women; these men who consume these videos have much to choose from. Facebook pages and other forms of social media continue to propagate and promote videos of young girls. Those who make them wish to shame the girls, exploit them not simply in person but again and again by spreading the material.

It is an effective strategy; there are millions of leering, lascivious and lecherous men awaiting their product; eager to do their part, watch rape, share rape and ultimately commit rape.


Also read: The trivialization of rape in Pakistan


In a country where a woman can still be prosecuted for fornication and adultery or for filing a rape complaint; the victors, the innocent, the correct and the moral are always men, even if they are rapists.

Men who share rape videos are complicit in the continuing persecution of the women whose violation they witness so shamelessly .

A law was passed just last week criminalising the “character assassination” of rape victims. However, its inability to crack down on cases such as Sadia’s, where men who share such material via the internet are also held responsible, it is unlikely to do much.

In a country where everyone touts their piety, caresses their beard and hustles to mosques; sharing rape videos bears no moral cost for the criminals.


Also read: A license to rape


Under the glare of media attention; Sadia’s gang rapists have been caught and it is said that they will be punished; and maybe they will be, at least until attention remains on the case.

After that, as in so many other rape cases, bribes will be paid, judges will be cajoled, appeals will be heard and the men will go their way free to rape again.

Sadia’s other rapists are the men who watch, share and gleefully, shamelessly consume such videos, and they will go completely unpunished; for if there was any shame at all in sharing a gang rape video then few would do so.

Pakistani masculinity, that prides itself on its commitment to honour, sees no dishonour in this complicity, no tragedy in this form of exploitation.

In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, clicking on rape is not a crime, and so every man with a phone can partake of the violation of a Pakistani woman, endorsing and encouraging her destruction, without fear, without remorse and without accountability.

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