Harassment against women has become very rampant in society and despite this discussions about it are usually done behind closed doors, if at all.
There is a taboo regarding tackling such an issue publicly even though it plagues all women, young and old.
At the IBA on Friday, I Am Karachi invited speakers to underscore the importance of creating safe spaces for women and discussed ways on how to eliminate harassment from society.
Shahla Qureshi, the first woman SP of Karachi, was present and spoke about the double standards and discrimination Pakistanis practised when it comes to gender. There is a sense of shame attached to reporting harassment which is taught to young girls and continues for most of their lives.
She also criticised former governments for not allowing women to work in certain areas, reserving them exclusively for men. This, she said, was a disgusting abuse of power. “However, things have changed over the course of the last few years.”
When harassment is reported, we usually make those responsible for meting out justice who are also the perpetrators of injustice and harass women regularly. “If a person cannot give justice then such people should not be allowed to be part of committees that aim to protect against harassment,” she said.
One important thing is “to make sure that all organisations set up committees that protect the rights of men and women and these committees must put down rules and regulations clearly for all to follow.”
Women, including young students, are mostly victimised on public transport which is a dilemma of society and our society needs to be trained about how not to take liberties with others.
“Things are particularly alarming in rural areas. I visited prisons and shelter homes in Larkana and met a young girl who did not know anything about love marriage or honour killing, yet had been attacked by her own family on such accusations and was physically tortured and harmed.” Women, she summed up, have to face a lot of challenges, which is why society needs to empower them and help find a solution to the problem of harassment.