“Who hates Malala?” I asked and entire class raised their hands. As I asked, “Why?” they did not have a solid argument to support their proposition. Just like the unfelt presence of toxics infused in the air that we breathe – corrodes us physically, there are things in our society that have been long rusting our soul. Sad part is, we have not even yet acknowledged their presence, far away is the talk of curbing them. The fact that it took nearly five decades to expose perpetrators like Harvey Weinston, in a well-educated and civilized society, signals how amplified the magnitude of sexual harassment would be in under-developed countries like Pakistan. Where the victims are silenced, or sometimes blamed instead.
According to a leading daily, in Pakistan most alarmingly, 93% women have suffered sexual harassment at a public place. The whole point of sharing the horrible figure was to reflect, how sexual harassment cannot be just confined to the concerns of the way ladies dress and interact. It is a power struggle engrained in our society, that every powerful no matter how noble and educated – finds it so easy to satisfy their lust at the expense of others’ sufferings.You cannot derive much hope from a society, where even the Ulemas find it “ok” to beat your women lightly, as reported by local media. Where the ones entrusted to provide protection strip you off your honor.
Our national conscience is hurt when a mosque turns pink to support a feminine cause, however our national integrity remains numb when abuses are hurled at a women right on the national television.
These comparisons help us analyze, how badly we have suffocated breathing space for the women. Sexual harassment stems from the fact that the vulnerable are expected to bow down before the pre-decided norms of the society. As they dare to challenge the societal norms, they are subjected to hate, abuse and sometimes even worse.
Believe me, it is not any underlying conspiracy of which Malala is a part that makes us hate her as a nation. In fact her out-rightness is difficult to digest that even her choice of dress offends our ego, that some did not resist comparing her to a prostitute and – yes we recently reached this new low.
Believe me, Mukhtaran Mai’s case was not highlighted by the West owing to their hostility towards Pakistan, it was the death of our own collective conscience that lead to the shameful tragedy. To the ones who keep silencing every voice against this suppression by dubbing the victims as anti-national or traitors,
I have a question regarding an incident reported by local media. If Malala and Mukhtaran are traitors, what underlying conspiracy do you see working behind the recent horrific tragedy in D.I. Khan? Who stripped the innocent girl, any RAW agent? No, perhaps it was someone among us the “Pakistanis” who feel no short, when it comes to eulogize about the great heritage of the East and shaming feminism.
It is easy to shame the oppressed, the helpless. It takes guts to vocally support them. Sadly, our hypocrisy convinces our sense of integrity, by questioning the victim’s character instead of supporting them in their fight for justice.
This suppression will continue unless we stop believing women as a lesser creature, unless we consider their sufferings as human sufferings too. Its high time we as a society put a “full-stop” to the abuse and hatred.