Accomplices, not partners

Albert Arooj Bhatti

There has been a steady rise in the number of sexual assault and rape cases in the country. Whether it’s Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi or any remote area in the country, deranged human beings have unleashed their worst desires.

Incidents of sexual violence against women occur almost every day but there are some cases that became media spotlight and remain etched in our memories – Mukhtaran Mai, Zainab, Marwah and the unnamed woman on the Lahore motorway. These incidents disgraced the nation leaving a blotch on our society that is refusing to go away.

The nation is enraged over the Lahore incident and there have been protests. A question crossed my mind that why men and religious scholars have not raised their voice and have remained silent. The reasons are obvious as sexually deprived men are easily aroused around a woman and think they have a right over them. Women are unsafe even in their own homes while there are horrifying of women being raped in their graves. This menace has affected minors, women in shelters and at bus stops and offices, the elderly, veiled women and even transgenders.

The remarks of the Lahore CCPO are not merely his personal opinion but of our hypocritical society. The victim is often blamed for the incident.

Why was she wearing the dress? Why she was not covered? Why did she go out? With whom did she go? Where was her family? Unfortunately, women are not safe in their own homes and have been assaulted by their fathers and brothers. How could the rape of a four-year-old child ever be justified? We have not spared women in the graves and mutilated their bodies.

A new debate has been ongoing for the chemical castration of rapists. It should be reminded that experts have not found any link between arousal and sexual violence. This is a mindset that finds pleasure in the suffering of others.  A history of sexual criminals shows they have themselves been a victim of mental, physical or sexual violence. Pakistan has all sorts of laws but it requires implementation and structural reforms to bring some closure.

It is often said the implementation of Islamic law in the country will end sexual crimes but it has not been clarified what will be punishment. There is no Shariah law in the West but there is justice, nudity is acceptable but no rape, and in case there is an incident, the law shows its course and the culprits are brought to book.

Pakistan is considered an Islamic society yet all sorts of crimes and malpractices from murders, robbery, sexual crimes and child molestation are rampant. How will the police enforce Islamic laws? Then we end up blaming women for such incidents but the truth is that we just concealing out hidden shame.

Renowned Urdu port Azhar Durrani said “hamein khabar hay luteroon k har tikhane ki. shareek-e-jurm na hotey tu mukhbari karte.” (I am aware of the hideouts of the looters. If I wasn’t an accomplice, I would be a witness.)

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