Words have long become obsolete. No matter how many essays, panels, protests and mounting evidence of rabid violence against women, it seems as if all words of condemnation and pleas for help fall on deaf ears. Whether it was Wednesday’s horrific incident of the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman in Liberty Market or the gruesome rape of a little girl who was dropped before Ganga Ram Hospital, the truth of the matter is that the state has majorly failed to protect women as well as underage boys and girls from the lecherous and brutal hunger of predator men. Apparently, saying this in public is asking for the wrath of others; our society still refuses to see how prevalent and normalized this form of abuse is.
Rape culture is alive, whether it is in Pakistan or the United States of America. The world is an exceptionally perilous terrain for women and children. In our very own country, sexual violence against women is nauseatingly normalized in media and popular culture; we are told with shameless bravado that women who dress in a particular dress, walk and talk in a particular ‘deserve’ to be raped. The belief is not only utterly vile but entirely oblivious of how supposed ‘modestly-dressed’ suffer the same kind of sexual assault from male peers. Only two years ago, the statistics on rape victims according to Awaz Foundation Center for Development revealed that as many as 2,713 cases of violence against women had been reported in 15 districts of southern Punjab. We can imagine how quickly the number has escalated since then.
Hiding this reality under the excuse of ‘preserving honor’ will not make it go away but only allow it to grow like a disease deeper into communities. Shifting the blame on the victim is not only morally reprehensible but legally dishonest and it reinforces rape culture among young men. It says: All women are dispensable objects that you can make use of at your will. The young woman who was gang raped on Wednesday is like the thousands of other women who have been receptacles of vicious misogyny. At this point, one wonders if our police and state guardians feel any empathy at all or is it just lip service. It is a shame that our law enforcing bodies deliver so little and so late for something as harrowing as being robbed of one’s human right to dignity and autonomy.