The Taboos Surrounding Rape in Pakistan

The Taboos Surrounding Rape in Pakistan

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Arfa Mukhtar

A month ago I visited the Karachi based NGO War against Rape (WAR) for the purpose of conducting my term project on a social business. After paying several visits I learned that how neglected is domestic violence as a social issue in Pakistan, and is still considered a taboo. I was the one who chose this NGO as our target and I’m highly grateful that my group members who supported my decision while when I told my father, he looked a bit skeptical at first so later I had to lie that the NGO was assigned to me by my instructor. But what made my father so unnerving when he heard the word “Rape” and he might have also thought that will this be a safe place to send my daughter? It’s unsafe because my daughter might have an encounter with sexual survivors, or come across to anything that is too provocative for her to see or listen to?

Well, he didn’t say much when I asked him for his permission but rather replied by saying, “Daikhlo, waise koi well-known NGO chale jao jaise k TCF ya Dar ul Sukun, meine toh iska naam bhi kabhi nai suna.” After listening to him, I humbly smiled at him and assured that I will try to connect with some other NGO if I could. But let me tell you, I am a young woman who highly believes that this issue needs ample attention in Pakistan and therefore, after my experience with War against Rape (WAR) I have decided to do an internship there so I can learn more about how to contribute to this cause in order to eradicate it. But here’s the hurdle; will my parents allow me to do that? I may insist them, but will they really support my decision of fighting for eliminating rape in our country? What makes “Rape” so unnerving to talk about or even support as a cultural issue in Pakistan?

The real problem is we refuse to admit rape as an issue. Rape is no more just a crime, but simply the result of our ignorance towards women’s right in our highly patriarchal society. Believe me, after attending several sessions with the working committee members of WAR and doing multiple researches on physical abuse I have learned that neither its root cause is just sexual desire nor men abuse a woman or a child to let out their hunger for sex. Rather, it’s a simplistic way of showing empowerment towards another person. According to multiple researches on domestic violence, the feeling of superiority to women, regaining control and expression of power are the prime reason why men turn their rationality into psychopathy to commit a crime like this. I absolutely second that and especially when I came to knew about the incestuous experience faced by my second cousin.

This girl was almost 17 years old when she committed suicide after being physically abused for around 7-8 years. She lost her parents when she was 2 years, and therefore, her uncle (Father’s cousin) and his wife adopted her along with the elder sister. The girl shared every detail with my first cousins about her physically abusive relationship with that man. She used to explain how helpless she is, as she is financially dependent on him and how he used to seduce her when she was young and tell her to hold his genitals. Unfortunately, it went a bit too far and he ruined his life until she had no option but to hang herself. Why she had to suffer for losing her parents? Why that sickening man had to sexually assault an orphan to show his superiority towards women? Because she had no voice? Yes, I’m speaking on the behalf of my late second cousin and every woman who suffer in silence due to the influence of our pessimistic society. Rape has threated our social morals and demand empathy but does our society provides the desired attention and compassion to these rape survivors/victims? The prime reason behind her suicide was when her uncle’s wife got to know about the sexual relationship she was having with her husband. It happened when one day she came back from college, she beat her so much that due to immense shame my cousin decided to commit suicide. I believe rape as a social issue needs to come to an end. Enough damage is already done to women’s image and rights and the only way to eliminate it is by breaking the taboo surrounding rape which can only be initiated by talking about it and acknowledging the fact this problem exists and needs an immediate end.

The contributor is a student at IoBM, Karachi. 

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