Being groped, harassed and video-taped on Independence Day

For anyone who has an ounce of respect for other beings, the 39-second video, which has gone viral in Pakistan, is difficult to watch. 

In the said video, while on a crowded street at night, a vile young man drabbed in Pakistani national colours, evidently celebrating August 14th, sexually harasses a burqa clad woman. As his friend watches with a devilish grin wide enough to let an airplane in, he attacks a lady sitting on a bike by grabbing her from behind, gyrating against her, and then continuing the abuse for a several more uncomfortable seconds.

I am not sure how this video found its way to the internet, but it is safe to assume that this was only one of the many attacks from these miscreants during that night.

The video reminds me of a regular topic on the popular Facebook page ‘Halaat Updates’, where women often ask others how to protect themselves from sexual harassment. Some of the men who reply – the geniuses that they are – claim that only a hijab can protect the women of the nation from unwanted advances.

Well, this woman was in a hijab, wasn’t she?

Perhaps, instead of encouraging women to create restrictive shields around themselves, we should encourage our men to give the opposite sex the respect they deserve.

Here is a reminder for all men:

If she is in a hijab, you do not have a right to touch her against her will.

If she is wearing a dupatta and shalwar kameez, you do not have a right to touch her against her will.

If she is in a skirt, you do not have a right to touch her against her will.

If she is in a bikini, you do not have a right to touch her against her will.

If she is naked, you do not have a right to touch her against her will.

A woman is never asking for it, unless she specifically is.

One must also wonder why when a man is raped, no one blames it on his choice of clothing.

Pakistan has a widespread sexual harassment problem, and it isn’t because of women’s choice in clothing, rather, it is due to our mind-sets.

While working on an article on the subject, I reached out to people on the internet, as well as to friends for their experiences with sexual harassment. Within a month’s time, my inbox was flooded by first-hand stories from women with traumatic stories. Startlingly, these were incidents reported by women working at banks, hospitals, TV channels, and other respected institutions. Their harassers were bankers, professors, doctors, and more.

In my mind, the worst aspect of the Arab culture we adopted was the hijab. It may have served its purpose initially, but it has been stifling our evolution as a society for some time now. The hijab as a very concept means a woman must smother her identity because the onus is on her to save herself from harassment.

I agree with the many Islamic scholars, such as respected Saudi cleric Ahmed bin Qassim al Ghamidi, who argues that the hijab is not an Islamic compulsion, but rather, it is a part of the Arab culture which has been confused with Islam. The cleric says that instead of blaming women, we should blame men for not lowering their gaze.

Similarly, other prominent clerics have also claimed that both the hijab and the veil are not Islamic duties. The only part of the body specifically mentioned to cover is the chest.

As for men involved in this incident, I hope they are caught and made an example of. True justice would see them sent to jail with cellmates interested in teaching them a thing or two.

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/29058/being-groped-harassed-and-video-taped-on-independence-day/

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