But are my clothes enough to cover your filth?
Art is multi-dimensional; has no definite meaning, but a hundred interpretations. There’s visual art that brings you perspectives in colors, literature that brings grace and love, and then there’s the art of victim-blaming, the one that needs no education, casts a shadow of a dead heart, defines a boggled mind, and has its foundations of a great many stupid theories.
Victim blaming is synonymous with aiming bows on those who are already on the losing end of a war. Agonized, tortured, shattered, and bled, the fact that the victims are never known as fighters, instead almost always as ‘fahash’, ‘behsaram’ and ‘ghair-zimmedar’, this society is nothing but hollow. The reason for a lot of shaming and blaming also comes from misaligned and misquoted parallels drawn with the religion. “Islam doesn’t allow women to get out of their house without a man”, “Islam has obliged women to observe Parda”, “Islam has asked women to stay out of sight of na-mehram” are just a few comments a victim is instantly hit with. No denying of these commands set by religion, but what does Islam say about men who rape is not a question often asked.
To begin with, placing the entire mountain of responsibility of assault on the victim, and letting the assaulter roam free for him to victimize more people is a crime in itself. All my logics die a thousand deaths wondering how it could even be a victim’s fault, especially when victims aren’t all women with the same preferences. Most of them aren’t even women. The most reported cases of rape are those of minors; children aged below eight, and my children, I mean both girls and boys. Too much irony, a huge number of reported as well as unreported ones come from Madrasas. Due to the appalling influence of clerics, religious institutions, and at times, religious militant organizations that support these Madrasas, the cases are never registered against the perpetrators, or even if done so, they are withdrawn after the settlement. The question, however, stands still. Are 6 years old really to be blamed for this heinous crime against them?
A survey conducted in a closed women’s only group on Facebook showed that 70-80% of women faced assault before the age of 10, while only 5% of them had the courage to inform their elders. Moreover, most of them also reported that the offenders were members of the family or distant relatives. I wonder what guts a person needs to have to ask an 8-year-old why her body was so revealing that it couldn’t help a 30-year old’s sexual frustration. In other places, the rapes of women are easily questionable. The primary investigation that should be conducted to punish perpetrators is instead directed towards victims.
“Why were you out alone?”
“What were you wearing?”
“Your liberty has cost you this”
“Look at how you walk, you asked for it”
And the one that never fails to drive me crazy
“Ghar se nikalney ki zarurat hi kya thi?” (Why did you even have to step out of your house?)
According to the latest research, most of the sexual assault is now performed within close relations, and the culprits look for opportunities in places that are comfortable enough for the victims to not be doubtful, oftentimes their own houses and family gatherings. Existing in a wretched society where a woman is not safe from her own protectors is a sin in itself.
Another form of victim-blaming comes in the shape of the need for evidence. The desperation with which everyone awaits a piece of evidence, either proving the victim’s innocence or the culprit’s deed, is so achingly painful that there never could be a possible counter to this reckless argument. Khaled Hosseini said, “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman”. And so, it stands true.
Anger, fear, and despair flush together when I see women amongst us questioning other women. In a fight against sexual predators, women vs women should be the last concern, however, the deep-rooted hate that the male-dominant, forceful culture has sown in women for one another has become the reason why believing victims is the last thing we’d agree over. How dead does a society have to be to resurrect again? Or does the death of morality not count?
In a justice system where criminals are often set free without even proper hearing sessions and the oppressed look forward to justice even after 20 years of their fights, it is no surprise that the lawmakers, defenders, and rulers, are all part of the diaspora that has little to do with reducing crime rate and more to do with protecting those of influence. The rape ordinance hasn’t convicted a single offender so far and neither do we have any false hopes of it happening.
Immediately after the motorway gang rape incident, CCPO Lahore could be heard shouting at the top of his voice, clearly holding the victim responsible for the crime. To reckon, it was his duty to ensure peace and safety at the motorway which he utterly failed to provide. To avert the direction of accountability, he instead hurled at the victim for choosing that route at night, without a man, and also being careless enough to not check the fuel in her car. Although the CCPO was fired from his position after the public rage, the views haven’t changed yet.
In a live telephone call with the public, Prime Minister, Imran Khan was asked what his team was doing to tackle the increasing rape incidents in the country and if the law does exist, why aren’t rapists hanged publicly in the state of Madinah. To not much surprise, Imran Khan came up with the same explanation that he has been giving for almost every problem in the country; Western influence and vulgarity. In the passive words that he chose, it was evident that he blamed women for not observing Pardah and that the men had to somehow channel out their sexual frustration that peeps in through vulgar content available on the internet and elsewhere.
As an ordinary citizen of this country, I would like to remind Prime Minister that a thief robs a man not because the man was asking for it, but because the thief had to rob anyway. A sexual assault victim is robbed of dignity, peace, tranquility, emotions, happiness, and the family loves not because they asked to be rob of it, but because the robber knew there’s no one to stop him from committing the crime. And this brings us to the final answer, crimes take place because the law continues to support them in ways that only someone with the understanding of the art of victim-blaming could get.