Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

Sexual Harassment: A taboo in Pakistan

Anushay Talha Khan

Given that sex – and anything related to the subject – is taboo in Pakistan, it comes as no surprise that sexual harassment is such a hush-hush affair.

“Sshhh.. don’t tell anyone.

Just forget it. Let it go. No.. just stay quiet. It might harm your image too. What would people think? They’re going to judge you. They might not trust you. Let it go.”

That’s what they say usually say when a woman experiences sexual harassment in country like Pakistan.

My question is, WHY?

In today’s date, more than 80% of women in Pakistan face sexual harassment on a daily basis. Harassment has become one of the most common issues of our society. In most cases, the perpetrator takes advantage of the victim’s vulnerability and helplessness. Because women are taught to keep such incidents private, they are suppressed, the fact that women will seldom come out to raise their voices against injustice, strengthens the perpetrators’ determination to touch whoever they like, whenever or however they want.

And it’s even worse when the predator is an uncle, a colleague or a friend – anyone from the trusted friends and family group circle. From gazing to passing comments or cracking inappropriate jokes to finally sexual attempts – that’s how fast the predator moves. They easily take advantage of the build up trust and get away with their wrong deeds without paying for it. And in such cases, the victim is suppressed more, specially by her immediate family and is asked to stay quiet for the sake of her reputation and relationships. This is sad, indeed.

What we as a society fail to understand is that this issue is far more important than we think. We might not be able to feel the pain of a victim, the emotional post-event trauma that a girl goes through and the feeling of helplessness of not being able to do anything about it. We as spectators can not relate to it on an emotional level which is why we do not take an action against it. But just remember, if it can be someone else’s sister today, it can be your sister tomorrow – And that is when you will realise the severity of this problem.

We as a society need to condemn sexual harassment. We need to stop making it a taboo. We should provide all victims with moral and emotional support so that they don’t feel suppressed but rather they have the courage to take an action. Or for starters, at least be able to speak up about it. Because if not now, then when?

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