Of silent men & maulanas

Mawish Moulvi

The writer is a journalist.

‘I am raising a boy your daughter will be safe with’ read a poster at the protests held in solidarity with the motorway gang rape victim. But why should the burden once again fall on the shoulders of women alone?

After the CCPO’s unpleasant paternalistic remarks about the victim’s poor road choice, women took to the streets to tell the men that they too are citizens with equal rights to safe existence in a country they call home irrespective of the date, time, and place. Women are speaking up loud and proud to demand an end to victim-blaming; no woman is ever ‘asking for it’. But the silence from the opposite gender is rather deafening.

As per our societal norms, a woman is tasked with ensuring the proper upbringing of her children. But a mother can teach her son to respect women every day till the cows come home with no success if every day the same little boy learns to subject women to abuse, infidelity and assault from his father’s behavior. Women are not and cannot be responsible for making the world a safer place alone.

Any man who chooses to pinpoint the motorway gang rape victim’s failure to fill her petrol tank or her decision to drive alone with three children at night is just as ideologically perverted as the rapists.  A man who chooses to remain silent on the incident is confirming rape as the only natural consequence of a woman exercising her basic rights including the freedom to breathe outside the four walls of her home.

A report released in May this year by the Sustainable Social Development Organization revealed a two hundred percent increase in cases of violence against women in Pakistan. How much has the silence of men contributed to these numbers? The motorway horror shouldn’t serve as an excuse for men to accompany women in their families or restrict their movements even further in an attempt to keep them safe. Why should women bear the consequences of men’s actions?

Men too must speak up and condemn the gang rape- at home, at work, at parks, and especially at mosques.

In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan religious scholars, moulvis, and maulanas exercise significant influence. Their failure to condemn the motorway gang rape is a refusal to stand with Islam. Rape under shariah law is a hadd crime- that is a crime against Islam and Allah- for it violates Allah’s rules and transgresses the bounds set by Him. Why then do these religious leaders avoid protests in solidarity with the rape victim but can be seen roaring slogans at anti-shia marches?

If Pakistan is to become a safer place for women the government must take the religious leaders on board. Let the maulanas preach. But let them speak of Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) teachings who never raised a hand against any woman and not of the need to control women.

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