Me, not a robot
I would like to think of myself as a liberal person, doing practical work to advance women’s rights and actively promoting women’s empowerment through my professional endeavors. Part of this may in fact be true. But I’m also aware that I find myself using sexist language, laughing at misogynistic jokes, and benefiting from patriarchal structures.
I’ve probably (certainly) offended women with sexist comments, especially in their 20s, and more than likely made awkward, inappropriate, and unsolicited comments. I always try to do better, but I am far from what I should be.
Yet in my entire life, I don’t remember a single incident where I saw a woman dressed in, and I thought to myself: well: she is clearly looking to be raped, and now I have to find a way to give her what she deserves. And as a man, I am deeply offended and frankly disturbed by the Prime Minister’s insinuation that I have to be a robot to resist such vile temptations.
Tell me, Prime Minister, what was seven-year-old Zainab wearing when she was “raped, tortured and strangled to death” while on her way to the Qur’an?
For the past 72 hours, I have been accused of being an ‘agent’, a westernized man who promotes ‘fahaashi’, and a traitor for the simple fact that I criticized the prime minister for validating the story. rape that begins and ends with the painfully insidious “but what was she wearing / what was she doing there / why was she alone?” “
Aside from the argument that what a woman wears does not affect her chances of being raped, there is a plethora of behaviors that precede this blatant violation, which also requires significant political will to address it and massive social change to change.
There is an endless stream of stories that I hear every week of female friends, where they have been harassed by men for the simple crime of walking down the street. This happened as they wore any clothing imaginable, at all times, in all places, including the liberal bubble of Islamabad. They shared heart-wrenching stories of vehicles slowing down to keep pace with walking speed, men yelling and changing direction to follow, outright attempts to strike up a conversation that has an alarming chance of being asked to. getting into their vehicle, and them inventing fake brothers, husbands, and fathers on the phone to escape awkward questioning by the drivers. It’s not a seasonal thing. This is what Pakistani women face everywhere, all the time, relentlessly.
The two examples (Zainab and Autoroute cases) above are often used by rape apologists as incidents where the perpetrators were brought to justice, as if it affected future incidents. So let’s talk about some real numbers.
Zainab and the highway incident are two high profile cases. On average, 11 cases of rape are reported daily across the country, resulting in around 4,000 cases per year and, according to one estimate, around 22,000 cases in the past six years (data as of November 2020). Of these 22,000, convictions were made in 77 cases. That’s an average conviction rate of 0.3 percent in rape cases.
It also does not take into account all cases that go unreported due to social and cultural stigma, patriarchal ideals of “shame” and “honor”, and fear of retaliation, preventing women from self-seeking. manifest.
The deterrent formula in any society is a good mix between the possibility of getting caught and the severity of the sentence. We have neither. Most cases of rape go unreported, so the chance of getting caught is already quite low. On top of that, a conviction rate of 0.3% means that even if an arrest has been made, it will not result in justice being served. Finally, severity can be present in high profile cases (mainly death sentences), but given the conviction rate, severity is a negligible factor.
The conversation must now move beyond pedestrian arguments, despite the sheer imbecility of apologists demands that they be reiterated. Some of the simpler arguments, which require constant repetition, are as follows. No woman dresses to be raped. Men are not stupid monsters who rape at the slightest hint of flesh. Male predators target women as well as young men and transgender people.
As cisgender men, we shouldn’t feel attacked or ‘oppressed’, we should feel revolted and angry for the implication that we are not in control of our actions based on what someone else is wearing. . Either that or we unplug.
The author is a senior researcher at the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad and a freelance journalist.
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