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Sexual harassment on the streets

Sexual harassment on the streets

If you live in Pakistan, and you are incidentally a woman, you must have suffered some form of street harassment. Especially if you think that you are a human being and walking on the streets is as much as your right as any man’s.

A woman, walking on the streets in Pakistan is considered by most (not all for political correctness) an invitation for molesters, harassers and rapists. We suffer from a deeply embedded sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, which is why, its never a man’s fault if he attacked a woman on the street, made cat-calls, groped her, or flashed at her in a sexual manner. That is not all; if as a woman, you dare to complain, you are a rebel, wanting to go against the norms and actually liking the attention men give you because you chose to go out on the streets and walk amid the hustle bustle of otherwise ‘pious’ men. Never forget that as a woman, it is your fault and if a man misbehaves.

For many women, victim blaming and shaming starts not from outside, but from within the close family. Comments range from pitiful to full of blame. Questions and ideas used to silence a victim are; why were you walking on that street to begin with? Did nobody tell you that if you wear a light coloured dress without a chemise, men are incited? You have to ‘dress properly’, because men will be men. It is in their (men’s) nature to be attracted to women’s bodies. Simply put, in the opinion of most, regulating women’s behaviour and bodies is the only way to be safe from criminals.

This attitude basically decriminalises whatever happens to a woman victim, and in many cases minor girls, and enables a man to continue with the crimes. After all, being criminal for rapists, abusers and sexual harassers is ‘natural’ in the face of ‘inappropriately dressed women’. Bringing us to the concept that the root of all evils and crimes against women are the dresses they wear.

The concept where the dress becomes a weapon of incitement as well as protection is also one reason many women consider wearing a burka or niqab as protection. God have mercy on her if she is not wearing a burka, because women who wear a burka and a niqab are never harassed on the streets of Pakistan, or for that matter, any Muslim country in the world.

The notion that wearing certain types of clothes protects us women from all sorts of crimes, including street harassment, sexual assault, rape, violence, acid throwing, etc, is logically and evidently flawed. Is it true that men would never make catcalls at burka-clad women? Or that men, would never rape minors if they were appropriately dressed in a burka? Not to forget those finger-poking passengers on public buses. They never ever poke, touch, and grope women who are wearing those black monstrosities, symbolic of higher moral character.

All in all, if only all women dressed the same, that is, turned into ninjas none of us would ever have to complain of sexual harassment on the streets.

Daily Times

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