It’s not my fault!

Oct 4, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Expressions, General, Non-Fiction, Opinions

Recently there has been an increase in rape cases all over the country, much to the shock and dismay of a majority of our society. Or so it seems. The Human Rights Commission revealed alarming figures of violence against women for this year alone. Violence against the “weaker sex” in Pakistan is spread across the board, and its various forms include acid attacks, honour killing (locally known as Karo-Kari), sexual abuse, restricted freedom of movement to the downright barring of women from casting their votes in elections. However, contrary to a vast number of opinions, it is not just restricted to the rural areas.

Such incidents are also common in the upper strata of society, where the high walls and so-called ‘security’ effectively divide the rich from the poor.

To give an idea of the scale of the problem, in Lahore alone the police registered 113 cases of rape from January to August this year while 32 cases of gang rape were registered in the province of Punjab. Even dead girls are not safe from the carnal intentions of these repulsive souls, as in the case of 15-year-old Zainab, whose grave was found open a day after her burial with the body bearing signs of sexual assault.

Don't Get Raped - Don't Rape

The recent rapes and abuse(s) of children that have come into the limelight and left the nation stunned at the depravity of the situation are nothing new, according to human rights and women’s activists. They have been occurring for decades, and taken as a normal part of our “culture”.

To quote the then senator of Balochistan Sardar Israr Ullah Zaheri, “These are centuries-old traditions.”

He was speaking in parliament after five girls were buried alive in Balochistan in 2008 over suspicion of “immoral conduct”. Mr. Zehri further came under the media’s angry glare when he said, “I will continue to defend (these traditions) and only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.” Mr. Zaheri however, very conveniently forgot that “immoral” in our rural and tribal areas is a word that is used as freely as the water flows in the Indus river.

A woman can even be deemed immoral by her husband and killed simply so that he can be paid the “bloody money” in order to protect her family’s so-called honour. Our rural society does not always allow the accused to speak out – and a woman’s word is never as good as a man’s. Then why should such customs be allowed to survive?

I found his statement almost as hilarious as the man himself. Perhaps he should have looked up the meaning of the word humanity some time. He might have been surprised to find it does not solely represent the male part of society.

But perhaps the saddest part of all is society’s acceptance of such incidents as normal. A psychologist, who requested anonymity while talking to the media, stated that it is our society’s patriarchal system which is responsible for such treatment of women. Where women are considered ‘property’ and the ‘hall-bearers of men’s honor’, such events are bound to happen.

“There is no proper training given to the police to handle rape and domestic violence cases; and most times such cases are not even filed by the authorities, who believe they are aiding in “breaking up families”,” she says.

Families force women to stay at home and bear the sexual and domestic abuse, with husbands even claiming it is the wife’s fault. And when a woman decides she has had enough and runs away from home, the entire force can be utilized in the blink of an eye to “recover the run-away girl”.

Who cares if she is 35-years-of-age? Who cares if she deserves better than facing a drunken violent husband every night, and that she is tired of being the punching bag?

I was honestly quite disappointed when the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) declared that DNA testing should not be considered a major part of evidence in rape cases. Maybe not surprised, but certainly disappointed. I mean, really – we completely understand the Hudood Ordinance, but it is also highly unlikely a rapist will want an audience to witness the act.

While the media has certainly helped shed some light on these issues, as in the Lahore rape case of a five-year-old-girl; there are also major cons attached to it. Such events are being treated in the media as “juicy tid-bits” rather than the horrifying truth of our society which they represent.

Instead of focusing on the perpetrator, the media names the victim and puts the victim’s family in the limelight. The perpetrator in most cases than not is not even known to the people, whereas every little detail about the victim (especially her/his name) is broadcast as BREAKING NEWS.

While I appreciate the media’s role in bringing such matters to light, it must also realize the sensitive nature of such news. The people and police must be sensitized to such issues, rather than being bombarded with information related to the victim. This only leads to the spotlight being trained on the sufferer and the perpetrator more often than not can go Scot free.

Keep in mind the Delhi gang-rape case; where the media kept the nation informed for neigh a year until the very last of the culprits was sentenced by the court. Not once did the media take the victim’s name, instead calling her “Nirbhaya“, which is Hindi for fearless.

A satirical video It’s My Fault featuring Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin and talk show host Juhi Pandey, depicting why ‘women are at fault’ for the rising number of rapes in India went viral a few days after the sentencing was handed out.

Our media needs to learn that a rape or domestic abuse victim must be treated with both respect and a symbol of light for others, rather than a helpless woman all eyes are trained upon looking for the goriest of entertainments. Such techniques only help to exacerbate the problem.

However, it is also important to remember, that while the media definitely plays a strong part in shaping how society looks at certain events, the mindsets of the people as a whole need to be changed. The victim is not at fault! The culprit must be punished! – at least to set an example for others – and society should sympathize with the family of the victim instead of entering their home and tearing their already throbbing dignity and self-esteem to shreds.

Our society, which harps so much about religion that it seems to have forgotten what Islam truly stands for (humanity and peace, to the surprise of most people out there!), needs to first learn the basics of humanity and equality of rights. Unless women are treated like human beings instead of a man’s property, such incidents will never see the end.


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1 Comment + Add Comment

  • So true! And nothing will be changed unless as you pointed out the mindset of people changes. And not just men but women are also responsible for degrading their own gender. God knows when will the time come when we will be free in true sense.

    Good article.

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