Of monsters and men

Between state and citizen, there exists a social contract

Loyalty to the state is owed in exchange for the protection of life, liberty, and property

Government holds out liberty on trust, and we frame constitutions to set the terms of that trust

Repeat violations of these terms render the social contract meaningless

Why, after all, have a state if it cannot ensure justice? Pakistan’s fondness for patriarchy has forced its women to constantly ask themselves this question

Security and autonomy over their body — perhaps the most basic of basic rights — is denied to them

They are raped in front of their children; harassed in the streets; killed in the name of honour; married off to settle tribal vendettas; assaulted at home; forced to change their faith

Pakistan is the world’s third worst country for women according to the Global Gender Gap Report

Human Rights Watch reports that a woman is raped every two hours in Pakistan

So let me ask again: why should women respect the state of Pakistan? I cannot answer that question

Not after a woman is raped in front of her children as she waits for help on the motorway

Cricket is Pakistan’s national obsession; victim blaming comes a close second

The CCPO Lahore thought the victim should have exercised more sense

She should have known the dangers of being a woman in this country; she shouldn’t have travelled alone

This pearl of wisdom from a man who the PTI has moved heaven and earth to appoint should serve as a watershed moment for this country

Abandon hope, those tasked with protecting you blame you

Blaming victims flows from a myopic worldview that Sherry Hamby, a professor of psychology, describes as the “just world hypothesis”

Speaking to The Atlantic, she described it as: “There’s this powerful urge for people to want to think good things happen to good people and where the misperception comes in is that there’s this implied opposite: if something bad has happened to you, you must have done something bad to deserve the bad thing

Victim blaming robs the victim of their dignity

It argues that people deserve to be raped

Nobody deserves to be raped

It doesn’t matter what they are wearing, what time of the day it is, how they live their life

No person deserves to be raped

Rape is never the victim’s fault

If this was genuinely what our leaders believed, the CCPO Lahore would be out of a job

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case

Asad Umar described the CCPO’s words as “unnecessary”

He might as well have been describing putting slices of pineapple on a pizza

Apparently IGs can be replaced for political motivations every other day but denying a rape victim their dignity is where the PTI draws the moral line

The dignity of a person is the only unconditional right in Pakistan’s Constitution

In practice, women seldom get this right

A woman’s dignity is violated every step of the way when gender-based crimes occur

First, when the crime is committed

Then, when they are harassed and humiliated as victims — blamed for their misfortune, treated as social pariahs

For victims of rape, Pakistan continues to employ the unscientific, unconstitutional, and archaic ‘two-finger’ test to determine if they are virgins

The results of these tests are then used to determine the question of consent, resulting in judges writing in publicly available court judgments that a woman is “habituated to sexual intercourse”

The state has allowed monsters to roam among us, preying on women

Monsters bred by patriarchy

To cure this, some people advocate for a return to Zia’s Pakistan where public executions became normalised, violence became a spectacle

Zia’s Pakistan where the solution to cruelty was more cruelty

Public executions cannot kill an idea

The idea of patriarchy

A notion of male superiority that has permeated every facet of life in this country

Our laws are bred by it; our moral norms nurtured by it; our social values moulded by it

Only through the systematic dismantling of patriarchy can this country change and its women feel safe

Neither are public executions constitutional

To answer injustice by perpetuating more injustice is unlikely to prevent any crime

We must tear down the house that patriarchy built

This means breaking the taboos that exist around discussing sexuality and sexual violence at home and at school

Children must be taught that a woman does not carry her family’s honour, that the only person to blame for rape is the rapist

Consent must become a core part of our educational curriculum

It is also necessary for the government to embark on gender sensitisation trainings

The police must learn to stop blaming victims, the judiciary needs to learn to stop shaming women in court judgments, and every man who holds public office must learn to respect women

Finally, it is time to amend every law in our books that perpetuates patriarchy and makes women jump through multiple hoops before they can report a crime

Pakistan’s broken criminal justice system forces people to suffer for years before any modicum of justice is dispensed

It is the certainty of punishment that deters crime

Here, there is no certainty

The law in this country is present only in its absence

If the social contract fails to protect women from men who have become monsters, then women have no obligation of loyalty to the state

The state loses its moral legitimacy

Women then must take it upon themselves to dismantle the structure of patriarchy that has forced them to suffer

Whether or not the state helps them

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2020

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