Iram S. Khan
With access to education in the cities, the girls of Gilgit-Baltistan are trying to be active parts of the society through communication and holding researches in their related fields. One of the trend that is increasing gradually in the region is the online and workplace harassment of women by the people in authority. It has been extremely hard for girls to talk against this issues with examples because such respectable people who are involved in these shameful acts are highly mystified and respected in the region and people would not hold anything against them. Women who raise voice against this issue are blamed and targeted as the shameless and less respected and this approach of the society not only encourages harassment issues out also kills the voice of many girls who become victim of it.
Not so surprisingly, none of the so-called liberals, leaders and activist talk about this issue. For them, women empowerment and feminism is all about sharing pictures of girls on their walls and that’s it. When it comes to talking about the real rights and problems, everyone just disappears. People have suggested that the easiest way to stop this act is to block the men. Blocking them would have saved girls from all the headache other people give them, but this is also censoring a social issue that needs to be discussed and people in the authority should not feel safe in victimizing students and workers who are female.
In context of Gilgit-Baltistan, this topic holds an important significance. GB is a place of peaceful coexistence. With the hold of modernity and globalization everything from systems to items are drastically changing. The massive inflow of people, knowledge and technology has completely changed the social behavior of people and it will be further intensified with the influx of mega-projects, i.e. CPEC. This is important to drag attention of our law makers, social scientists, bureaucrats, technocrats, directors and high designation holders, so that they address such kind of issues with seriousness.
Considering the modern day challenges, it is crucial to give particular attention youth concerns, as they are more vulnerable. This is a common practice by the technocrats, bureaucrats, CEOs and all other leading figures; they use their position to harass people. In the recent times, it has come to common knowledge that young girls are really vulnerable to such incidents of harassment and in many cases the girls do not know the intentions of the other person. Students needs to have engage themselves in the discussions that are happening at the provincial government. It is not only their right but it is important for the nascent governments, like GB to involve youth in the development, planning and decision making. Most of youth are optimistic and energetic about bringing change in their societies and are looking forward for the opportunities to bring their theoretical learnings into the practice. Considering the kind of things the senior staff are doing, how many of students will actually be able to contribute their time and knowledge for the betterment of society? The question here is not about an individual man and a girl, it is about all of us. Many people are involved in this and for their pleasure they are targeting young girls. In many cases, the perpetuator have offered girls to have a relationship with him with the promise that that he will help her to get a good job. Harassment is something serious and it should be dealt with some seriousness. There are no laws, no policies and not even any guidelines to handle these kind of issues. The government has to take an immediate action. It should not only teach its employees some moral and social ethics; it should also arrange awareness programs for the youth. With the weak signals of 2G our government officials have plenty of time to send requests and messages to girls. I am worried how it will transform a level further with the 4G and CPEC free Wifi.
In order to prepare well to face the future challenges; it is important for the government, non-government and civil society organizations to properly address the issues related to youth, whether that is about suicides or a case like social media harassment. Gilgit-Baltistan should move beyond the narratives and discussions that either normalizes the problem or victimize the victim. Everyone should at least feel safe in the place they work and the place they use, irrespective of their gender, and this safety is the only way to ensure equal participation, gender equality, women empowerment and development in the peaceful land of Gilgit Baltistan.