T/W: rape, sexual assault, force
The recent motorway rape in Lahore has left us all disgusted, shook and outraged to the core. And what makes it worse is the victim blaming that has followed, especially from those that are meant to protect us. It is to voice her rage at these events that our follower, Rania Nasir, wrote a letter to society. Scroll down to read it:
Since my teenage years, I have been constantly advised to cover myself to protect my body from the harrowing gaze of men around me. I was prompted to believe that a woman in jeans is inviting herself to be cat-called, harassed or raped, while a woman covered from head to toe in a chaddar is always safe from them.
After the motorway incident, every woman will think twice before leaving the house alone at midnight. In fact each time something like this happens, women are urged to be cautionary about their ‘modesty’ while the real perpetrator of this brutality goes unnoticed. How many protective measures can a woman take to protect her body till hose forcing her to take them are not prohibited and made accountable? Unfortunately, we live in a country where policemen and lawmakers can only comment on a vicious gang rape by blaming the victim for taking an unsafe route late at night. Why would any man be afraid of committing a heinous rape if those who are bound to prevent it from happening fail to condemn their animalistic desires, and rather blame the survivor? Apparently, it’s never a man’s fault if he cannot respect women or control his gaze when a woman is alone because ‘men will be men.’
Confining women within the premises of their homes or asking them to keep themselves covered is not the solution; are women really safe inside their homes in a country where animals are raped? Are women wearing a veil or headscarf not equally vulnerable to harassment than those not wearing it? Why is a woman accused of provoking a man to rape her because of the way she dresses? The problem lies in the belief that women have to protect themselves because men are incapable of restraining themselves.
In conclusion, no woman will ever be safe from rape – irrespective of age, clothing or time she leaves the house – till the mentality endorsing rape culture is not changed. Moreover, those who will continue blaming women for the atrocities of men are also playing a role in furthering rape culture in Pakistan.
A woman must use her discretion to dress whichever way she wants, and choosing to cover herself must be a spiritual decision rather than a social one, in the same manner it is for men. Perhaps if we could divert our attention from finding faults in a women’s conduct, to educating men to respect women, lower their gaze and control their desires, the number of rape cases may decrease.
The Women of Pakistan