Men, make a choice


I speak today to my own brotherhood, my fraternity of men

It should be abundantly clear now (if it wasn’t before) that we own the problem of torture, abuse, harassment and injustice against women in the country

Women have been saying it for generations, but we ignored it — because it came from women

Today, I say it as a bona fide member of our group, loud and clear: we are the perpetrators

We are complicit and complacent, and we are the ones failing society, and we need to acknowledge it

The unspeakable tragedy on the motorway has presented us with an opportunity to choose sides

I know, as members of the group that has enjoyed unchecked powers and privilege, we have gotten used to the carnage we have created

Our social order, inside our houses and outside, has shaped a warped worldview where women are considered irrelevant, insecure and in permanent need of our benevolence

But this social order must break down and we must choose sides

Do we choose to be decent human beings, or do we support the status quo with minor window dressings? Few questions in life have as straight an answer as this one

There are no middle grounds here

The two sides are clear

We are either part of the problem or the solution

I had hoped it would be clear to everyone which side is which, but hearing from the great minds of our political parties and media houses, it’s apparently not

For those playing both sides, here is a checklist to help us choose

Let’s get through this together

Question 1: The CCPO of Lahore takes a position so shameful it doesn’t merit repeating here

What do we do? Answers: a) We hide behind technicalities; b) Call it irrelevant and a distraction created by political opponents; c) Say while we do not agree with it, it’s not grounds for removal; d) We only give him a symbolic, toothless show-cause notice; e) We continue to put full trust in him

If we answer yes to any of the above, we are the problem

Question 2: As the investigation moves forward, what do we do? Answers: a) Start congratulating our team on an excellent, exemplary job; b) Show sham humility, come on TV and talk about how we are different from prior governments

A yes to either of the above means we are the problem

Question 3: We describe women as: Answers: Not an individual, who is an equal citizen but because of her association with men (bahu, biwi, beti , etc)

If yes, then we are the problem

Question 4: In times of crisis like this, what do we focus on? Answers: a) Women’s dress code; b) A woman’s decision; c) A factually incorrect reading of the brutal regime of the 1980s and our romantic notion of it; d) Comparisons with India and others to remind that others are much worse

If yes to any of the above, then we are the problem

Question 5: When presented with facts about abuse, in person and online, our response is: a) Dismissing it as partisan politics; b) Questioning the petitioners’ motives; c) Reminding everyone we are champions of human rights while doing little else

A yes to any of the above means we are the problem

Finally and most importantly — given all this, what are we doing? Answers: a) We are quiet; b) We are absent; c) We do not have a clear, unequivocal moral stance; d) We are quietly hoping this would die and we would move on

A yes to any means we are the reason for the continued suffering of women around us

Fellowmen, enough of this barbarianism

It’s time to own, acknowledge and change

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2020

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Date:16-Sep-2020 Reference:View Original Link