To all pious Pakistani men

Image from google: Not my credit

There have been a lot of videos, posts and opinions going back and forth for the recent statement by the PM of Pakistan on why rape incidents are increasing in Pakistan. Although there have been a lot of back lash, many self-proclaimed pious men have come forward to defend the PM’s statement.

My two cents on some points they’ve raised:

  • Women being presented/objectified/sexualised in TV adverts/porn/movies act as ‘temptation’ to distract and sexually frustrate men. This content is made by men for men, thus men need to fix the problem. You talk about victim responsibility? What about your responsibility as practising Muslim men? Don’t watch this stuff, it won’t sell. No demand, no supply. These industries run on the exploitation of women for male pleasure. No woman wants to be objectified in the media. No woman wants to see that content. Feed more female empowered content to your audience through media. The solution is not to put a woman in an abaya on TV or ban her from it. The solution is to show strong women who are respected by men in media to set a precedent and feed a progressive narrative.
  • Pakistan is also home to minorities, or have we forgotten that completely? They have equal rights last I checked. Every culture considers ‘modest’ dress to mean something different. For example if a catholic nun is wearing a habit and a knee length dress is she ‘fahaash’ or will you force her to convert to Islam in your skewed logic? Foreign political female officials or a celebrities should be allowed to wear the dress of their choice if they visit Pakistan. Would you ask them all to wear a burka and keep them segregated from a male gathering, just so that your neanderthal men are not tempted by them on TV and then ‘take it out’ on a helpless child/women in their control?
  • Segregation is no solution. If every woman on the street is dressed in an abaya, porn is banned, women on TV are banned or come on in an abaya, will sexual harassment stop? Will rapes stop? It doesn’t take a genius to come up with the right answer and it’s a hard no. Please read true heart-breaking stories of Saudi women and how they are actually treated behind their veils and in their homes.
  • We were placed on this earth with free will as a test. For Allah to remove all temptation from this earth is very easy but it’s there for a reason. We are supposed to have temptation around us but Quran teaches you to keep yourself away from it. In Ramadhan, we know food is within are reach, it’s oh so inviting, but we abstain from it. You don’t use the same argument, if food was presented to me looking tempting I couldn’t help it, I had to eat it and hey there was an advert on TV with a tempting oily samosa so that made me do it. If your mind is basic forget the research, just follow this easy to understand principle.
  • There is a tipping point to anything. A principle of torture rests on the fact that you don’t go to a point where the victim stops fearing you and prefers death to the torture. Women who are out at the Aurat march are at that point now. They are vocally demanding their human rights in Pakistan knowing they can be easily lynched but they’ve gone beyond caring. They are shouting for change at the cost of their everyday miserable lives, if not in their lifetime than perhaps for their daughters.
  • Give boys good role models as fathers/older brothers/uncles/cousins. Don’t put the onus on bringing up good sons on mothers. Give the male child a good upbringing which involves not just respecting women in purdah but ALL women no matter who they are, regardless of what they wear, which religion/culture/race/nationality they belong to, so when they see a woman who doesn’t conform to their perception of decency, they don’t turn hostile towards her and exert their power to put them in their place. Solution: end misogyny.
  • You talk about leaving a wallet behind out of carelessness which could be robbed. This might seem a very simple thing but a woman is not an object like a wallet/jewellery/cash -she isn’t your property to be stolen. She is a person with human rights. Her safety and the safety of her belongings is the responsibility of the state. No woman no matter how ‘liberal’, scantily clothed or modern invites sexual harassment or assault. Inviting sex and inviting an attack are two different things. Again the problem to be fixed is on your end. End rape culture which condones these acts by justifying them.
  • Your argument is that men can’t and won’t lower their gaze, because they aren’t all pious, good people. They get sexually stimulated through adverts, porn, clothing etc. So essentially they won’t do anything to protect their faith. They will give in to temptation because they can’t change their nature. They will ogle women on the street, they will lust after women on TV/Porn, they will get influenced by all of that and harass women. But you want all women to be pious, protect their modesty and be in purdah. Hypocrisy much?
  • A man may exert his power on a victim that is vulnerable, but it is the responsibility of the state to offer safety to the vulnerable members of society. The PM should talk about how he’s failed in that responsibility, what he’s doing to create a safe country for those vulnerable members and what his plans are for offering support to the victims of such crimes instead of spouting theories that exempt him from doing anything at all.
  • By offering explanations and justifications for rapists-you are humanising and empathising with them and shifting blame. Yes, let’s dissect each and every reason why the poor fellow did it, how society failed him and made him evil, shall we? This may come as a surprise, but there is always a reason and logic behind every crime. What should the focus be? Ending crime or ending temptations for the crime? Can you stop all temptations that cause men to become thieves/robbers? Can you eliminate the root cause of all murders? But you want to end all temptations for rapists… slow clap.
  • There are three type of men in Pakistan. 1. Monsters who prey on the vulnerable, 2. Passive/weak/apathetic men who stand by and do or say nothing, 3. Rape apologists: Men who defend/empathise/justify the acts of these monsters, shift blame and thereby dehumanise victims. I want to believe in a fourth category but they are like unicorns, the heroes we had in some old movies who beat up the goons and defended a woman getting raped but sadly I haven’t seen those around. Forget any action, they don’t even use their voices to fight. Which one are you?

As a Pakistani woman, who has been sexually harassed multiple times in Pakistan, nothing disappoints me and makes me feel more unsafe than a group of men on mics shifting responsibility from themselves and blaming other factors. The problem is with you and the men you know. Change yourself. Improve yourself. Stop men around you from these acts. You’ve created these monsters, you need to chain them.

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