A few weeks ago a heinous incident of a woman being raped by two men on a highway shook Pakistani society to its core. Two culprits robbed and raped a woman who was waiting for help with her three kids, stranded in a car that ran out of fuel. The crime angered the citizens not only because of its cruel nature but also due to the callousness of the authorities in general and Lahore Police in particular. The frustration of people (particularly women, was evident from slogans of anti-rape protests in Pakistan organized by civil society organizations like Women Democratic Front and Aurat March, etc.
Public asked the removal of CCPO Lahore Umer Sheikh who blamed the victim for being at the wrong place at the wrong time while briefing the media. Consequently, protestors who mainly included women also demanded action against the officer whose comments on the issue could have easily misled people about the root-cause of anti-rape issues.
About the Slogans of Anti-Rape Protests
A look at the slogans of anti-rape protests from Pakistan reveals how complicated and systematic is the issue of rape and it can’t be simply eradicated by just ensuring the hanging or public hanging of the criminal. In fact, there were concerns that punishments like these could only appease the instincts of watching violence and may do little to root out the reasons that cause powerful (which are most of the time men) to rape the week which is usually women, kids, and even animals. Women expressed that no place (including home, school, college, or university was safe for them and still people had the audacity to claim that they were enjoying their due rights.
So most common posters demanded justice (which means conviction of the culprits and bringing of a system that ensures respect for all the genders). The participants also demanded the removal of officer who blamed victim.
On Reasons of Rape
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, there are many misconceptions about why do rapes in Pakistan happen. Most people think that such incidents can happen due to the intermingling of genders, women wearing indecent clothes, women traveling alone or women going at less crowded places. What they fail to comprehend is that there are cases where women have been harassed and raped while wearing the burqa, while being in the home abode or just for the sake of revenge. Even these are not only women who become a victim of such crime but also kids, men who are in week situations, and even animals.
This is the reason why a woman protester stated that the reason for rape was not the ‘dress, location or time but the rapist who commented this act’.
On Possible Solutions
The protesters also presented some solutions to this problem like public hanging of the criminal or castration etc (Not everyone agreed these punishments since they didn’t guarantee conviction for being too severe). It was earlier reported that one of the culprits was a repeat offender and police already had his DNA from another case that happened back in 2013. So the criminal repeated the ordeal since he was earlier acquitted.
Who Are the Real Culprits?
Few posters at anti-rape protests from Pakistan simply explained that the system, patriarchal society, police, politicians, and everyone who was silent was in one way or other responsible for the crime since they either systematically facilitated it or didn’t take the issue worthy of attention.
Most of the times, people think that women are week so they are raped and in order to not get raped they should either learn self-defence or take precautions but they don’t dare to hold those in power responsible for such wrongdoings.
Mera Jism Meri Marzi
My body my choice or the slogan Mera Jism Meri Marzi is the trademark slogan of the popular Aurat March in Pakistan. Opponents think that the aim of this slogan is to promote obscenity. Well, in reality, Mera Jism Meri Marzi demands the very basic right of women which is to not allow someone violate their bodies: something that happens when married and unhealthy women are not allowed to abort even their 8th baby despite the fact that it may jeopardize their health, something that happens when, women are raped and harassed in a public place (through inappropriate touch), something that happens when women’s bodies are sexualized in media and something that happens when women’s bodies are violated just as an act of revenge.
A Woman Not Being Someone’s Honor
Most of the issues that women in Pakistan face are related to carrying the burden of being the family’s honor. Participants at anti-rape protests in Pakistan highlighted this issue through the slogan “Aurat Hun Izzat Nahi” which means I am a woman and not honor. The slogan is controversial because people may think it to be against the conservative ethos. In reality, it demands the emancipation of women from the clutches of patriarchy and from being objectified. There is no lack of cases and customs in tribal areas of Pakistan where women have to pay the price of being family’s honor through traditions in which they can be given from the culprit’s family to a victim’s family as compensation of some crime.
The very notion of honor makes a woman an object or some item of value that can be robbed or looted to avenge the opponent.