Horrific assault

Published August 19, 2021

A VIDEO of a woman being assaulted by a crowd of men during Independence Day celebrations near Minar-i-Pakistan has shaken citizens to the core. Clips of the incident, now viral on social media, are unbearable to watch. The woman is assaulted, manhandled and groped by scores of men, with some unabashedly filming the crime. The men are brazen and ruthless. The complainant says she was attacked by nearly 400 men, some of whom scaled the enclosures to attack her and rip her clothes off.

The episode has proved a trigger for many women who described on social media how they themselves were assaulted or how they feared they would sooner or later face a similar situation. The trauma and anger among the women is palpable. This incident rubs salt in the deep wounds inflicted by the misogyny rampant in our country — the toxic mentality that allows for repeated assaults, victim-blaming and gaslighting of women. A case has been registered by the Lahore police against hundreds of men, with officials saying the video footage of the attack will help authorities track down the culprits. But bringing these perpetrators to justice is just one part of the solution. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to correct the public narrative around women’s rights.

Read: The mob assault near Minar-i-Pakistan and why ‘Mera Jism, Meri Marzi’ matters more than ever

All too often, the country is gripped with horror as gruesome crimes against women make national news. While the thorough investigation of these cases is very important, it must be supported by unambiguous messaging by members of our government that such actions will be punished. Key officials must use their platforms not only to strongly condemn violence against women, but also to actively set the tone for women’s rights and opinion to be respected.

They must repeatedly and at every forum say that threats and harassment directed at women will not be tolerated, and then match these statements with action against the offenders. Unless the judicial process is supported by such a robust campaign, the environment that enables such crimes against women to take place will continue. But more needs to be done also at a subliminal level in the classrooms across this country when young Pakistanis are forming ideas about the world, and about the place of women in it. Respect for women is not conditional, and they are in the public sphere by right, not on the sufferance of the men in this country.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...
Police Lines bombing
Updated 31 Jan, 2023

Police Lines bombing

Where the menace of terrorism is concerned, the government and opposition need to close ranks and put up a united front.
Oil price hike
31 Jan, 2023

Oil price hike

THE record single-day increase in petrol prices, preceded by massive currency depreciation, signifies the ...
Babar Azam’s award
31 Jan, 2023

Babar Azam’s award

BABAR Azam might not have lifted many trophies as Pakistan’s all-format captain in the last year but the star...