A student girl carry knife to protect herself from harrasers in Peshawar. Photo

Palwasha Asif

I as 20-year-old Pakistani woman do not feel safe in this country anymore. I go to university terrified and scared from being harassed or molested and becoming the next rising hashtag on social media, begging for justice all over the internet. I carry a pocket knife in my bag because I am afraid to travel alone or go anywhere in this country.

My parents are terrified more than me. I still remember this incident like it was yesterday. Me, my friend and her mother, went to sadder Bazar in Peshawar for shopping. Saddar is usually a little crowded. As we were walking in the crowd her mother and me went a little farther ahead from her she was left behind in the crowed. Suddenly, she felt a pair of strong hands tightly grasping her arms and groping her in the middle of the street. A man nearly in his 40’s held her tightly in his grasp and rubbed himself against her from behind. She was numb and shocked to the core. Her hands were shaking and her legs couldn’t move. The man went right past her like nothing happened without even looking back. A few people saw that and none of them tried to stop him or even confront him. She had bruises on her arms for weeks. She felt sick to her stomach about it.

That was the day I started to fear going out again. I still remember that incident till this day. These kind of incidents leaves a permanent mark on our lives and souls. The victims remember the trauma lifelong.

As today as I was going for my internship at Tribal News Network which is on the 3rd floor of the building, I use a lift. While going inside the lift I stopped midway because there were 3 men inside it already. My subconscious stopped me from going inside because I recalled the trauma of what happened to my friend in a broad day light. I was terrified and my mind wasn’t allowing me to go inside the lift.

Women fear leaving their homes in this state. They don’t feel safe anymore. In Pakistan no matter what happens the victims are blamed. Instead of giving them protection or providing the victim Justice, the state has failed its women and are being blamed for everything including either their character or dressing. For instance, during an interview with BBC Prime Minister Imran Khan was asked about the rising cases of sexual assault in the country, to which he replied that in a place like Pakistan women need to cover themselves in order to prevent temptation in the society. This was a statement given by Prime Minister which was heavily criticized by human right groups, who called khan a ‘’rape apologist’’.  Victim blaming not only leaves a trauma but make the victims more terrified to speak up or even come out.

Domestic Violence, rape, murder, slut shaming, harassing, molesting and victim blaming are the major factors of this Islamic state which in my opinion have failed its women and they don’t feel safe anymore in this state.

The women no longer speak up or ask for justice because they are afraid from becoming the next hashtag which would circulate on the internet as a trending topic. In Islam women are given more respect and are considered modest human beings and are given their due rights. They have the right to live, right to get education, right to have freedom and live their lives according to the teachings of Islam. But despite this fact that Pakistan is an Islamic Republic it has completely failed its women.

Hundreds of women are killed daily in the name of honor, rapped and brutally murdered. Pakistan is going through a wave of femicide. One of the biggest example of femicide in Pakistan is the Noor Mukaddam case. Noor Mukaddam was a 27-year-old killed brutally by the alleged son of famous business tycoon Zahir Jaffar. Another incident was the molesting and harassing of a female tiktoker in Lahore at Minar-e- Pakistan. She was molested by 400 men in broad day light and not one of them tried to stop it from happening. If we look at the history and current situation of women living in Pakistan we will come across thousands of stories and incidents happened with women and due to constant fear or blaming and character assassination they don’t ask for justice or confrontation.

There are several hundreds of women begging for justice and the state has done nothing for them. Pakistan has high rate of gender based violence and some of the main aspects are lack of education, poverty or simply just misogyny. Victims, especially from lower class backgrounds, spend years fighting for justice in Pakistan. Women are considered lesser beings in the state of Pakistan where as its name says otherwise. In a Thomas Reuters Foundation poll in 2018, Pakistan was ranked the 6th most dangerous country in the world for women.

To everyone who thinks that the survivor ‘doesn’t look sad enough’ in a later videos of their statements or confrontation, one should feel sorry if they think trauma response is some one size fits all reaction that needs to be displayed for one’s approval and consumption. The women no longer feel safe in Pakistan including myself because we fear the lifelong trauma and unjust system of the state.

6 COMMENTS

  1. U put light on such an important issue.
    You manage to go above and beyond for every piece of job that you do. Great work!
    Best of luck

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