Syed Haider Kazmi
“Zainab why do you not go to college? You like to study. Don’t you?”
She said: “Yes, I like to go to college for studies and also to meet my friends there, but, er…”
“I used to go to college on foot and the depraved boys harass me on my way. Some pass offensive comments and some even stalk me. That’s why I seldom go there”, she said. Zainab was a student of F.A. at Government Girls College, Skardu. Why did I use the word “was”? Let me tell you the reason.
One month after our conversation, the depressed Zainab became a psychological patient, because of the constant harassment she had faced, and quit the college. This is not the only case of its kind.
In March 2 boys had raped a college girl while she was returning home from her academy. The victim’s family had taken the “brave” step of lodging an FIR and the court, to its credit, had indicted the criminals.
Unfortunately, many cases are not reported by the victims in our society, as they do not want to become victimized and stigmatized in front of the society where women are often accused of acts which were not done by them.
In most cases of sexual harassment, victims sew their lips and do not make complains because they know that the complaints would become counter-productive for them, in the society where women are treated as inferior species.
Last week a girl from Skardu committed suicide. The girl, R, was being harassed and blackmailed by a wicked boy. She reportedly complained to her fiance and parents about the culprit but all efforts were in vain. The situation had also created misunderstandings between the couple. At last, the depressed and oppressed girl killed herself.
Harassment is not only a civil offence but a punishable crime in Pakistan. According to the Pakistan Penal Code, section 509, any act, the use of word, sound or gesture with the intend to harass any woman “shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine up to five hundred thousand rupees or with both”. According to law, any victim of harassment can sue against culprits but the dilemma is that the society, as whole, wants to preserve its fake image by hiding these nasty crimes of harassment.
‘R’ thought that she had no option other than the commission of suicide. So, she opted to escape from the hypocrite society. Do you also want to escape, or do you want to put up a fight against these discrimination and unjust norms of the society?
The writer is a student of Law and International Relations.