Once a Communist activist while addressing a group of workers promised, “when the revolution comes, you will eat strawberries and cream!” A worker responded, I dont like strawberries and cream. The Communist immediately replied, “when the revolution comes, you will like strawberries and cream”. The dark truth behind this joke, torments all those who build high expectations from a promised political change.
Punjab that rejected PTI in 2013 general elections swayed in favor of PTI & PMLQ coalition government, desirous to witness some change in governance style. But Alas! with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar there are miles to go before we encounter any change.
CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh was appointed by CM Usman Buzdar against the consent of IGP Shoaib Dastagir. It led to a series of serious misconduct issues between the two and gradually this standoff ended with Dastagir bowing out of the arena leaving a person in charge of Lahore who can’t be expected to bite his tongue. In fact, he is shamelessly proud of his straight forwardness that knows no decency.
The unfortunate incident of gang rape of a woman at Lahore- Sialkot Motorway once again proved that he was not a right choice for a metropolitan city. CCPO not only pontificated the victim for not taking needed precautions before setting off for her journey but also looked irked at a genuine public and media demand to find the criminals.
Instead of showing conduct of a police officer who is bound by the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, to safeguard lives and property, to protect the weak against oppression or intimidation and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality and justice. He preferred to moralise the society and brought his personal feelings and prejudices to build a supremacist narrative around the crime and hide his incompetency to do the job.
Result is a severe backlash from majority of educated, working class women who felt insulted. No one can disagree that PTI has built its supporter and voter base at the hands of Pakistan’s youth and its women. Women have played a pivotal role in bringing this party to power. Most of the times these women were ridiculed by other parties for participation in political jalsas/processions. PTI came in on the ultimate women card to mobilise half the population of Pakistan but now seems completely insensitive to their day to day predicaments. The officer that CM Buzdar has appointed shows a shift in party’s progressive, women-centred history.
What leaves most disgruntled is how rape myths are constructed by a law officer to shape our shared conception of rape. Rape culture is created and sustained by a number of social norms and practices, of which one of the most important is rape myths. Rape myths are, “attitudes and generally false beliefs about rape that are widely and persistently held, and that serve to deny and justify male sexual aggression against women.”
Rape myths are generally of three types, i) myths that deny the existence of rape. This category hold women as perpetual liars or consensual participants in the act.
ii) myths that excuse/ justify the behavior of the rapist consider, women who were raped were, “asking for it”, either by dressing promiscuously or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It is believed that rape is a crime of passion and if a man was drunk, he couldn’t help it.
iii) myths that deny seriousness of the crime. It is believed that most rapist only rape once or certain category of women secretly want to be raped.
These three categories provide a helpful lens to view how rape culture is sustained in a given society by denying, trivializing and justifying violence against women. Acceptance of rape myths cause three kinds of epistemic injustices, testimonial injustice, hermeneutical injustice and obfuscatory injustice which later are responsible for rapist going unpunished. In a context where rape myths are pervasively accepted, radical legal reforms are urgently required. We cannot simply wait until the cultural conception of rape shifts, as such shifts will likely take decades and rape victims deserve justice now.
According to World Bank report in 2014 women made up 22.3% of the labor force in Pakistan. In present times country’s economy depend on women participation as they are half the nation of Pakistan. It is needed that they must be motivated and encouraged to contribute in the progress of the country, to earn for the basic livelihood or to attain better social class in vertically mobility. Instead they are being targeted to live in perpetual fear of predators who are ready to end their self respect and societal pride.
Virginia Woolf in her thesis, “A Room of Ones Own” states, a woman must have money and a room of her own, if she desires to have no infringement on the freedom of her mind. It is only if women learnt the great art of making money and had left their money for the education of their daughters, the future of women had been less miserable. But laws and customs conspired to prevent these women and infact contributed to lend them stature of a property or an object,
“women have been the mirrors in which man wished to see only the reflection of his own grandeur…mirrors are essential to heroic action as well as to violence.”
If Pakistan expects to rise economically it is essential that our women must take the role of a protagonist on the social stage. The concept of men as superior to women is deeply rooted in the patriarchal mentality of this region. But a progressive future demands, “women to hold up half the sky.” With the CPEC promise around the corner, Pakistan needs to choose if it would see daughter of Eve standing on an equal footing with son of Adam or prefers its half nation as an idle burden locked behind closed doors.