The tragedy of being a woman in Pakistan

Published: May 4, 2012

I feel jealous when I see women from neighbouring countries riding their scooters or bicycles to get to work or school. PHOTO: REUTERS

Gazing out of my office window in Islamabad, I see trees dancing in the wind and heavy clouds hovering over the ground, ready to shower rain. I feel like going out for a walk to cherish the weather but I cannot.  It is not because of my work, my boss or my family but rather due to the fear of strangers on the road.

I know this might sound funny coming from a journalist, but it is the reality!

When I go out, I hear cheap comments made by strange men, cars follow me and old uncles shamelessly stop their vehicles and offer to give me a lift.

And it is most embarrassing when I have to stand at the roadside to catch a cab. The act of men staring makes me feel like I am a showpiece and that it is okay for them to gawk at me. What a pity on this country and its people!

I feel jealous when I see women from neighbouring countries riding their scooters or bicycles to get to work or school. In my country, I cannot even think of doing this.

If, one day, I dare to be confident enough to do this, I will be made to feel so uncomfortable that I would not dare to do it again. My family will receive calls from people asking them to keep an eye on my activities because I am trying to break social taboos or because I am crossing cultural limits. And instead of supporting me, my family will ask me to stay at home rather than encourage me to face the world.

I once had an interview with an executive at Polyclinic hospital, who also happened to be a woman and she said to me,

It is very important for women to walk for at least an hour in fresh air. This is good for health and is medically proven to increase life expectancy. But women are reluctant because they feel insecure on the roads, thereby confining themselves to staying indoors and not exercising.

We call Pakistan an independent state but, sorry to say, I do not experience any freedom.

Read more by Sehrish here.

Do you think Pakistani women can ride a motorbike without fear of harassment?

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Sehrish Wasif

Sehrish Wasif

A reporter on the Islamabad pages of The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  •!/iQuoteWhateverr toobahatif

    you are too captivated with the charm of “Other countries that even though you might have never contributed for the change you expect it for you..
    Dear Miss Sehrish !! it happens every where.. your beloved other countries are no exception to this kind of behavior ..Recommend

  • Nadia

    Absolutely agree Recommend

  • abbas

    Quit decent written article we gotta change our selves individually Recommend

  • Zeeshan Arif

    You are not brave doesn’t mean Pakistan
    Delhi is perhaps the most unsafe city for women (Scooter and Bicycle riders huh) as 414 rape cases were reported in the national capital in 2010 (IndiaTimes Oct 2011). Check with rapes (per capita) and sexual assault stats worldwide, you won’t find Pakistan in any list.

    Stop spoiling Pakistan’s image. You media guys are up-to something not good for Pakistan’s youth.Recommend

  •!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    I am so sorry women aren’t given the respect and freedom they deserve from our country. Frustrated and creepy men make sure of it. Recommend

  • Rizwan Ahmed

    what are we supposed to do Ms Sehrish ? I’m fed up of your agency’s cheap topics & discouraging posts. Teach us, don’t tell us the problems. It’s easy to point out, we need solution.
    If the solution is Islam, you’ll call us extremist. If the solution is that scooter riding culture of neighbouring countries, then you’ll call us BEHAYA.
    What are we supposed to do? Kindly tell us the solution, don’t create depression & discouragement among the people. Tell us the real n ideal solution.Recommend

  • Anila Weldon

    As a woman, a Karachiite, a mother of a 6 year old boy, and as founder/CEO of 3 successful companies here in Karachi, I ride my bicycle everyday to work, to friends’ houses, to do groceries, and to my son’s school. I have no such issues as mentioned in this blog. In fact, I get friendly smiles, inspired waves, and good-luck wishes all the way. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect how wonderful life for those who choose to make it so for themselves! – Anila Weldon ([email protected]) Recommend

  • ukmuslim

    horrible. feeling really sad for you…Recommend

  • Rahila Baloch

    I agree with the fact,and you have just seen Islamabad if you think about the areas of Pakistan you would have been happy to be in Islamabad. this society is very much conservative. but we should work and hope for positive Pakistan.Recommend

  • anonymous

    pakistani women are the most twisted and complexed on the planet. if its not the victim then its the paki princess mentality that really screws with their heads. it would be much better if they could be properly westernized rather than being caught in the middle of a identity war. Recommend

  • Komal

    I don’t find this article quite effective. Yes, there are obstacles that women face here. But have you ever considered this fact that women are ridiculed or stared abroad too?
    And plus,
    If your doctor says to walk at least an hour. Have you ever thought about going to parks rather than walking on roads? You do know that walking on roads is quite dangerous :)! And also,
    Pakistan is not an independent state. It’s a dependent state! just saying you know!Recommend

  • Muhammad SUlman

    Strongly agreed with Rizwan Ahmed.Recommend

  • T

    Things like these happen all around the world to women. Don’t blame Pakistan for everything for God’s sake. Sick and tired of these negative blogs. The west is full of rape cases but they don’t go about writing a blog for every incident of rape. You are talking as if women are locked up in their houses all the time. Women can and do walk freely in this country Alhamdullillah.Recommend

  • Parvez

    If you let others dictate to you as to how you should behave, then you have only yourself to blame. In a situation like yours the male is the bully and you the submissive one but it is necessary to understand that inside every bully there lives a coward and you must use this knowledge to your advantage. Fully agree with @Anila Weldon’s comment.Recommend

  • Shahbaz lodhi

    It happens all over the world Why Pakistani’s are blame to stare ladies. When you step out from your house or office cover yourself so that, no one dare to pass cheap comments over you and if someone does this so simple, ignore . Otherwise you have better to move from here to fulfill your dreams.Recommend

  • Salman Sheikh

    I think woman should be ban of writing.. :)Recommend

  • Anonymous

    And this person thinks that westernisation is the answer to every problem in Pakistan. Grow up! Education should be encouraged. Not westernisation. What do you think women abroad are happy by the way they are being treated? You think westernisation will bring back the respect for the women here?
    Why do people pass so immature comments! Recommend

  • Salman Sheikh

    What if your scooter is snatched on gun point in Karachi.. I want to look at your face then.. It is better that woman are not riding scooties here. so keep it safeRecommend

  • Salman Sheikh

    @Shahbaz lodhi:
    Rightly pointed brother yeah they make mostly out of it rather than just stare… We are unlucky ;)Recommend

  • S

    Tragedy? More like incessant complaining! Hmph. Every society has its own values!! If you don’t like ours you’re free to join any other society of your liking! You can’t ride a bike in Pakistan? So what? Try driving a car or something. Simple. Stop degrading Pakistan. Sorry for being personal but it’s people like you who are destroying our image. Blacksheeps are present everywhere. Also men should not ogle at women but then again you’re just generalising a stereotype. Try growing up and learn to adjust. Oh, and stop being jealous. It’s unacceptable EVERYWHERE! Recommend

  • Sadiq

    If you think that people are gazing at you when are walking on the road then simply go out modestly dressed. It is not as common as you are narrating. many women are going out without any fear in many parks and roads every day. Secondly you are pointing towards Indian women, for your kind information rape cases are much higher in India than in Pakistan.
    but you are a stereo type Pakistani journalist……

  • Junaid

    You just wanted some attention with this writing right?

    Men staring at You is not only in Pakistan… You noticed it just because you still have enough self-respect that you felt all those offers from Uncles offensive but, maybe others from other countries don’t feel that. You can not think of riding a bike here, the reason seems to be that you can’t ride or you don’t have one. I have been living near JPMC Karachi and have seen a PTCL Employee who was always on her bike when moving around. She had confidence that you don’t have. And btw that did that Polyclinic hospital’s woman asked to walk on roads? If walk is that important than one can do that in the locality or area streets.

    Seems like you were sitting at your office with no work and suddenly felt “Hey, why not write something against Pakistan and post it on ET”Recommend

  • popsaeed

    If some body stare at you there is definitely some thing wrong in your appreance may be tight cloth or make up or some thing else that attract the opposite sex. Iam male and i tell you that man only stare at attractive thing but if attraction is cover man eyes never follow it.Recommend

  • Muddasser

    People people …….. stop this nonsense. i have seen half of the world and i am sure that Islamabad is safer and more peaceful City more then 95% of capital cities of countries having a population size like us….. i bet …. you name i’ll bring states…. India…. China ……hahah. you guys are funny ..Recommend

  • omair shahid

    @Salman Sheikh:
    i disagree with u women can write & riding just like us dont discourage them as for Sehrish Wasif u have the power to change this happens all over the world dont blame pakistan for this.Recommend

  • Ayesha Ilyas

    Aaah another of a “satti sawatri-maashre ki maari Pakistani aurat” , i live in Peshawar, i drive myself an except for a few ‘jaahils’ (who can be found anywhere in the world) no one has ever bothered me in fact most of the people are very supportive and respecting. Recommend

  • Omer Waqar

    Respected Author,

    I agree with all the things you mentioned in the article. But the question i want to raise is that why this happens??
    Pakistan is an Islamic State only by name. Majority of Pakistan is Muslim. Are we all practicing Muslims?? Our government should implement all the Islamic laws. You can look at the women, standing on road side waiting for public transport. Why people look at them?? because few of them are attracting men through their looks and appearance. Although men should lower their eyes as well.

    We have an awesome way to live our life but we are not following it. So i think that we should not blame others. We also then should not blame our government if we people are not good.
    First of all we have to fix ourselves then government will automatically be fixed.

    Sports are necessary for both genders but both genders should avoid the things through which men and women are attracted towards each other.Recommend

  • Dali

    As mentioned earlier, there’s a need for solution and to be taught.
    I hope I don’t stretch the cultural boundaries by suggesting that upon investigating the author’s opinion, one finds that it is indeed a national behavior to pounce on anything extraordinary or different looking.
    For those suggesting that it’s other countries and not Pakistan, would be fair.
    However, what it really means is that if not all then MOST HUMANS have a tendency to pounce and own beauty, which a ‘beauty industry’ critic might suggest, is not only a fallacy but ridiculous to do so.
    Man has to understand, accept & respect the right place of a woman, as stated in universal moral codes.
    I believe it has to start from language. A language that is not only grammatically sane but also respectful of locality. Poets and friends are a good place to start.

    Thanks for the article.Recommend

  • Nazma Baig

    @Zeeshan Arif

    Delhi is perhaps the most unsafe city
    for women (Scooter and Bicycle riders
    huh) as 414 rape cases were reported
    in the national capital in 2010
    (IndiaTimes Oct 2011). Check with
    rapes (per capita) and sexual assault
    stats worldwide, you won’t find
    Pakistan in any list

    What does comparing Delhi to Islamabad achieve? You are implying that the cause of rape and other crimes are because of giving women freedom. By the same argument, people get drunk because they are allowed to choose what to eat and drink and thus the freedom should be revoked.

    Delhi’s law situation is because of poor law enforcement. Our own law enforcement is nothing to be elated about. Does rape not happen here?

    As human beings, women must be accorded freedoms and equality. Excusing lax law enforcement and generally lewd behavior and blaming women for being the victims has done us no good.


  • Jawad Shah

    Dear Author
    How about you compare Pakistan with a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia where women cant drive a car they even cant go out without having there wales on???
    Allah ka Shukar ada karain kay aap Pakistan mai hain Saudia mai nahi then only you will realize the importance of our beloved country.
    Long Live Pakistan.Recommend

  • Saad Raees

    Looks like the writer has never been to a western country before or actually any country for that matter! Miss I live in US, and the way women are harrased here is worse than Pakistan! I don’t know if its me, or is it really that all ET bloggers do is bash Pakistan!
    Ever rode an overly crowded bus or train in New York? I suggest you don’t!
    Women here are passed on cheap comments by men of every age! They won’t care where you are, or with whom you are, they would just come to you and say obsene words out loud, not caring what kind of crowd is around you and what would they think! I work in a convenience store in NY and I witness such incidents every now and then!
    And then you guys wonder why many people are so suspicious about ET, I’m not implying that I am! I’m all for liberalism, but sorry to say that bashing your country unnecessarily for every problem that exists in this world today isn’t considered being liberal! I must commend American women for their bravery and courage! They don’t fall prey to pervertness of such pervs and complaint about how their “country is full of pervs”! And its men of every country who are pervs, their pervertness shouldn’t be associated with their nationailty, be they Pakistanis or be they Americans! Recommend

  • Urooj

    Not that I agree with everything this article asserts, however, as always, I am disgusted by theeeeeee au dacity of men who blame the harassment women face on the women themselves “cover yourself, dammit”, and if it still continues, then “ignore it otherwise it’s your fault”
    This only happens to women. I wouldn’t dream of telling a man who had his family bombed in the Tribal Areas that it was his fault because he should have moved when he knew drone attacks errrr being carried out. But of course op, rape and harassment are not the fault/sin of the perpetrator, but the victim. Shows what sort of mindset we have to deal with everyday!Recommend

  • Bushra

    The comments seem to be more interesting than the article itself. I neither fully with them nor the article. I go out everyday either in a rickshaw or bus. Men gwak at me all the time and I am sure I don’t look attractive in a dupatta wrapped around my me with no makeup. I long to have a scooter but my parents don’t allow it.

    But my office is full of men. Wonderful men who treat me with respect and take care of me as if I am their sister. These are the same Pakistani men who we always keep blaming on. We just need to have confidence, patience not to look at the stupid ones and education in country so everyone can learn to mind their own business.Recommend

  • just lol

    All you have to do is to look at the negative comments on this blog to see exactly what’s wrong.

    I don’t understand the blind “patriotism”, or rather, pigheadedness. I don’t understand the flimsy and rather faaltu comparisons with other countries, “islamic” or “non-islamic”. The author has made some valid points. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction, maybe you can think of why she would write a piece like this? And before you spring to the defence of Pakistan, what kind of Pakistan are you defending? One in which nobody is allowed to say that they are dissatisfied? And are we seriously going to refute the existence of creepy men now?

    And yes! Some women are quite lucky and mobile. I am too. But that doesn’t mean that everybody is and that everything is fine and dandy. Just because some of us are privileged and/or lucky, doesn’t mean that we should ignore the perspectives of others. Recommend

  • Hira Z

    A Chinese girl in my university used to come on her yellow scooter and the whole Defence View stared at her keeping their works aside till they get her slightest sight.
    Pakistan and women on scooter can never go together.Period! Recommend

  • I am a responsible and civilized citizen of Paksitan

    I think instead of feeling uncomfortable there could be ways that you adjust yourself to your environment. Just getting envious from women in other countries is not the solution nor is the situation as ideal for women as is mentioned here. This is a fact that majority of our men are unrefined and behave in odd ways but there are ways to face them and treat them.Recommend

  • Jai

    @Zeeshan Arif:
    If the Pakistani authorities refuse to record instances of rape surely your country will look like heaven based on statistics. But we all know that it’s not such a rosy picture in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Ali S

    @Anila Weldon:

    That’s brave of you but try stepping outside Defence,.Recommend

  • Hammad

    I agree completely…….I agree 100 % with the author………It`s da biggest problem of our society and we really do need to change it as soooon as possible….& we all need to join hands to change it….

    It`s da bigggest problem of our society…….

    secondly…..we have to be respecting women no matter how dey r dressed…..It shud be da foremost principle of our life……..

    It`s our utmost duty to respect them as much as possible………in da most true sense of respect……….Recommend

  • Clarus

    Again the usual whining and like always Pakistani women concludes everything by blaming it on men. Hey Serish is Pakistan safe for men?Recommend

  • Mubash

    Morally ill charactered people do there kind of activities. Women in Pakistan is liberal and has the freedom to do what she wants.
    But the women of Pakistan will surely proud to be Pakistani when they will compare themselves with the women in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries where the women are not permitted to drive a vehicle. If Pakistani women is reluctant ride a bike, at least she can drive a car. Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    Ive been living in Canada for the past 4 years and I ride my bike every evening…. I cant even think of doing that in Pakistan, will probably be eaten alive. In Pakistan men stare at women as if they are aliens from outer space it is absolutely crazy. My friends from university used to go home in public buses and the tales they have to tell are absolutely horrifying.Recommend

  • Saad Raees

    @Ali S:
    Have YOU been outside Defense? I guess not bacause I myself am not a resident of Defense and srtill have seen many mobile women working around my neighbourhood!
    Stop sterotyping whatever you mean by “outside defense” please!Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    Lady, please tell me which part of Pakistan you live in that this happens. Nothing is going to happen if you don’t fight for your rights (to ride a motorbike or otherwise). Stop being damsels in distress and princesses!Recommend

  • Faheem Z. Ch

    “When I go out, I hear cheap comments made by strange men, cars follow me and old uncles shamelessly stop their vehicles and offer to give me a lift.”*
    Seriously it happens in every country its just that women in pakistan aint used to working.Recommend

  • Zubair

    Be the change you want to see sister, in proportion to the cultural norms. Be sincere about that change and Allah swt will guide you and make things easy for you inshaallah. The way women *correction! – our sisters and mothers are treated in Pakistan is shameful. It’s unislamic and plain wrong even if you dilute the religious equation.

    Parda is more than just a woman “covering up”. Its about men and women alike protecting their eyes and dimaagh of anything that can be harmful or can cause hurt to someone else.

    May Allah guide me and us all. Ameen.Recommend

  • Mariam

    @Zeeshan Arif: The rape of women and children is not reported accurately in Pakistan due to stigma. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Families from almost all class divides feel shame if their daughters are victimized, hence, burying the issue under the rug rather than supporting their women and bringing rapists to the forefront. Even if they do, there are a lot of other clauses to deal with, such as, were there witnesses to the rape? Society even goes as far as to attack the woman’s morality, saying she should have dressed, walked and known better. It’s a pathetic situation. Recommend

  • Nitha Noor

    Men staring like animals is not new, it’s universal! If idiots like that have this kind of mentality, you’re encouraging it by acknowledging their existence! For goodness sake, every blog I read from the youth complains rather than encourages, here in England, I’ve seen more people encourage change rather than sit and point it out, even though the country’s in a much better state. If you change your attitude, you’ll change your entire atmosphere. Of course Pakistan has problems, every country does, look at India! But if we commit ourselves to the negative in these articles, how will our youth be hopeful and enforce change?
    Also, by focusing so much on the CULTURE of the Western world, you’re not doing yourself a favour, it’s not only pointless, but it’s self absorbed and careless of others. Education is the way forward, Pakistanis are so much more talented and knowledgeable than most of the British people I know (e.g. Arfa Kareem). Our Pakistani culture is rich and beautiful yet by comparing it with the culture of those who do nothing but dress half naked and get drunk most of the time, we are being wasteful! If there’s anything you should take from the Western, or at least British side of the world, take the ideas of a free and enforced education system, National Health Service and benefits from the government. It’s the only thing keeping me stuck here. Inshallah, keep praying for Pakistan!Recommend

  • Ali T.

    In Lahore go towards thokhar niaz baig. You will see woman driving bullock carts while having hukka. Itni liberty aur kahan hay? :P
    On a serious note in in Islamabad it isn’t all that bad. A couple of my colleagues come on those chinese electric scootys and have yet to face any kind of discrimination. Infact I have even seen women police officers riding bikes!
    On a sombre note neighbouring countries are not all about what you see on tv or what may be prevalent in the metro cities. The conditions there are not exactly favourable for women for that matter. In some parts of our neighboring countries the female foetus are aborted immediatelyRecommend

  • Muhammad Tahir Khan

    woo woo woo wait and listen dear,
    do you thinj that the norms,values,and belief of the other non muslims are good rather then pakistan and leave about pakistan do you forget that you are born in a muslim country and do you have forgotten that islam gives you respect and honour rather then being a reason of entertainment of other people……. this is the most worsefull thought that i have ever seen to be posted unfotunately by a muslim who is realy impressed by the artificial beauty of non muslims.
    it is very sad to listen and know about that girl who want to be free like a flying bird or a fish in a water, although you know better that both the swiming fish and flying birds are both can be caught and hurt by any body….
    May God help that kind of people.Recommend

  • Mbn

    Get over it. Women in other countries are able to do what they do NOT because this stuff doesn’t happen there, but because they choose to take matters into their own hands and have stopped feeling entitled to being treated like soft gold gilded petals of heavenly roses who can do no wrong.Recommend

  • Mbn

    @Rizwan Ahmed:
    Perfectly put. Nothing is good enough for our dainty delicate princesses who SHOCK HORROR should never have to work to provide for the family ITS THE MAN’S JOB. And yes this mindset prevails IN ABUNDANCE in even the youth of this country. Grow up ladies, grow up and learn to kick a guy in the nuts or show some aggression. The ground won’t gobble you up and ship you to hell for standing up for yourselves.Recommend

  • leila rage

    @anonymous: So demanding equal rights and to be treated with respect is ‘playing the victim’ or displaying a ‘princess mentality’?
    Our biggest problem is men like youRecommend

  • leila rage

    @ everyone saying it happens in every country:

    Just because women are harrassed everywhere does NOT make it right or justifiable. Why should we highlight this problem in Pakistani society especially? We should highlight this issue so something can be done about it!Recommend

  • leila rage

    The tragedy of being a woman in Pakistan is not limited to harrassment. Just the fact that the birth of a daughter is not good enough for most people shows us how we are ‘valued’ here.Recommend

  • Uzair

    To all those saying staring doesn’t happen only in Pakistan: You are utterly incorrect!!! I have lived in several countries, and it is Pakistan and the middle eastern nations where women are stared at, sexually harassed, and generally made miserable the most for daring to step out of their homes. This stems DIRECTLY from the concept that women are property of men and the only good woman is the one that stays at home, or at best if she steps out of the house, covers herself in a tent and does not show her “evil” face to men lest they lose self control. If a woman does show her face, she is fair game.


  • SaudiRules

    @Zeeshan Arif,
    “.. Check with rapes (per capita) and sexual assault stats worldwide, you won’t find Pakistan in any list…..”

    That is because most of the woman who are raped/harassed/molested do not dare report the crime!! If they go to thana to register FIR, she might even get raped by the police. She will be labeled as a ‘loose’ woman in the society for rest of her life! In other country, if you even pinch a woman’s behind without her permission you go to jail and become a part of statistics.

    Using your logic, since the court in pakistan hasnt convicted a single terrorist for last 4-5 years, pakistan has no terrorism problem, see?. It is the most peaceful country in the world!!! what a numbskull!Recommend

  • politicaly incorrect


    Kudos! Couldn’t express it better myself.Well said.Recommend

  • ammar

    Ms sehrish act its the women herself who has lost her dignity.I really feel ashamed when i go out in markets ,roads,schools ,colleges, universities, offices.Its women everywhere who is giving opportunity to them to stare to offer lifts etc.The majority of such women has troubled those too who r not their type.I wish that our government should make such laws that every woman should b bound to wear abayas they should only b allowed to work in the offices separately.Most importantly they should always remember their limits and their dignity.Today every woman wants to work why they forget that bibi khadija stopped trading after being married.WHAT DOES IT MEAN???It clearly tells us that it is the responsibility of a man to earn ,women r supposed to stay at home . Recommend

  • Ash

    Boring! Dont we all know this already?Recommend

  • zee

    I salute you for writing such ” master piece “. It’s a slap on the face of the dirty men who are the cause of insecurity for the women in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    come and try to ride in empty bogi of new york train alone at 9.00 pm and let me know what happend to u miss. and dont forget woman is man Kamzori.Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @toobahatif: “it happens every where.. your beloved other countries are no exception to this kind of behavior ..”

    Yes ou are right. Things like this happen in India too. It is the degree that is different. And the frequency and degree of harassment matters. In US where I live, we experience power cuts a couple of times a year during storms or heavy snow for 2-3 hours. Do you think the impact is the same as in Lahore which experiences 9-10 hours load shedding daily?Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @Zeeshan Arif: ” Check with rapes (per capita) and sexual assault stats worldwide, you won’t find Pakistan in any list”.

    In India 33% of rape cases result in conviction. In Pakistan the number is less than 1%. Why then would a woman report rape? When your parliament tries to pass a bill against domestic abuse, your religious parties block it. Even if women try to report rape in such a society, will the police file an FIR? Just because a criem is underreported and swept under the carpte, does not mean it does not exist.Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @Saad Raees: “Miss I live in US, and the way women are harrased here is worse than Pakistan!”

    Your statement has 2 parts :
    1) I live in US
    2) The way women are harrassed hee is worse than Pakistan

    Your description of what happens in a New York metro is simply not accurate since I have frequently travelled in it. And frankly I very much doubt that you live in US. I have never lived in Pakistan so cannot compare situation with US but definitely it is really rare and uncommon to experience ‘eve teasing’ in US. In India, eve teasing is more common in Northern states compared to East , West and South. Anyway, even in the north, as women are entering workplace in larger numbers, these situations are getting reduced.Recommend

  • Dr. Adnan

    Was my comment that painful that ET Web Desk Comment Moderators didn’t let it publish … tsk tsk … grow some will ya !Recommend

  • Raza

    What a pointless article. Why are you a journalist? FYI, women stare as much as men do, if not more. Crime exists everywhere. And finally, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re not a free country. Not in practicality at least.Recommend

  • Zahil Hamid

    @Sadiq: rape cases are higher because we have 5 times more population. Simple Math dude !Recommend

  • Kaalchakra

    Anila Weldon

    Thank you for bringing sanity to this discussion and presenting the true picture from the perspective of a normal Pakistani woman – not spoilt whiners and complainers. Allah knows why some Pakistanis are so negative. Thumbs up for painting a realistic picture.Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @Mubash: “If Pakistani women is reluctant ride a bike, at least she can drive a car.”

    Have you thought about the fact that someone maybe able to afford a scooter but not be able to afford a car?Recommend

  • Motoko

    You probably have never visited any western country, when you are saying that harassment in Pakistan is comparable to the rest of the world. Recommend

  • geeko

    Oh lawd, the weekly feminist outburst craved out in all its feminine subtlety.
    Well, you don’t go through an intellectual analysis of the whole situation and I don’t need to tell you that if you live in, let’s say, an upper-class family from Lahore and your name ends with “Khar”, far from being “oppressed”, you’ll not only oppress poor men servants but also be minister one day, whereas if you’re born in a poor peasant family of a south Punjab’s town you’ll be raped by disgusting creatures for trivial reasons.
    Different sociological environments create different social scripts, that’s a no-brainer, and that’s why talking as a “we women” is irrelevant, it’s not because you’re “a” woman, but because you’re “this” woman.

    But, concerning the staring problem : have you ever heard of Egypt ? Do you know that “we” – I’m in fact too shy to really stare, but let’s generalize – look like innocent nuns when compared to the Egyptians ? Sexual harassment over there has literally become a national sport if you go through the news (and not only the local blogs, but intl news.) Is it because they’re Egyptians ? Don’t believe in biological determinism – the common point between Egyptians and Pakistanis (and other countries, not only Islamic ; see India) is just that the men-women relations are not rationalized, in the sense that men have an idealized/pre-conceived view of women, which, because of what they have witness in their own young life (at home for instance)

    Don’t get me wrong : there is a problem in our society which should be addressed, but coming up with sensationalist, breathtaking titles like that just incite ego-broken alpha males like me to comment with frenzy.

    PS: I live in a Western country, and I rarely see women with motorbikes as it’s seen as “unfeminine” and women themselves don’t like that generally, but quite some with cars, and in Pakistan my own sister-in-law (Lahore) has one, didn’t know that it’s such a big deal. Recommend

  • Amjad

    @Omer Waqar: I think that the type of crude behaviour you describe goes on in many countries, even in Europe so you really have no reason to feel so jealous of women elsewhere. However the sad truth is that Muslim countries are where the objectification of women in most depraved. A French friend of mine went to Morocco and Egypt and she complained that the Arab women couldn’t stop oggling and trying to feel her up everywhere she went. I wonder is the Muslim faith’s restriction on clothing has made men and women desperate for sex or nudity. Maybe that’s why porn sites are the most visited sites in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.Recommend

  • umbreen

    If we compare Pakistan with the other countries it can be a better country in lots of ways. But in broader aspect women cant enjoy their freedom much. A certain class is still enjoying shopping, eating outs but not everyone. In western countries even girls dress up inappropriately nobody stare at them, they can easily hop on buses, nobody passes remarks to them. In Pakistan, when girls from certain class travel in buses they have to hear filthy remarks, and being touched and brushed by men. This is not a case in western countries even if a girl is traveling naked. We love are country but that’s a fact that women cant enjoy their freedom.Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    well written and totally agreed. I am surprised that people are refuting the social facts you have stated in your article. Living in fool’s paradise is no solution.Recommend

  • sana

    some of the comments by men on this blog are really embarrassing. to them i would like to say: please stop being misogynist hypocrites, it is really embarrassing hearing your bs, it portrays a negative image of pakistan so please just shut up.Recommend

  • Saad Raees

    Well I don’t know what part of US do you live in, but in New York Metro area sexual harrassement is not something unheard of! If you live in NY metro area and and have never heard of sexual assaults than ma’am I suggest you start watching local news channels like CBS and ABC more often! Maybe then you’ll understand what I’m talking about! My point here was not to dismiss the notion that this problem doesn’t exist in Pakistan, but to point out that it is a universal problem! My problem was with the writer specifically targeting Pakistan and trying to imply that Pakistan is the only where it happens! This should be talked about at global level instead of bashing Pakistan as usual!Recommend

  • Aisha

    I am sorry but that is completely untrue. When I was in Pakistan, I would wear a face veil and EVEN THEN I had men stare at me. Yes, there are women out there who dress simply to get attention but don’t assume that, especially in Pakistan. I know plenty of other Pakistani girls who completely cover up but still have creepy men stare at them.

    To say that Pakistan is a friendly place for women who want to travel/live/even walk ALONE is a complete lie…
    I love Pakistan so much but to deny its faults is wrong. Recommend

  • Aisha

    @Salman Sheikh:
    Sexist much?Recommend

  • azhar88

    We should know better as a country which calls itself Islamic. We should be following the way shown to us by our prophet (s.a.w). men should lower their gaze WHILE women AND men should both be modest in their dressing and mannerism. How can men be expexted to lower down their gaze and both men and women be expected to dress modestly when sheela and munni dance in our homes 24/7 and when sheela sells mango juices seductively.
    NOW thhat being said women in the west are not treated the way some pakistanis think they are treated. Being treated like a peice of meet is no freedom. how is a society just when women use their bodies for worldly gain while men mostly are judged by money. how come when a man induldges in fornication he is said to be a player while if a woman does it she is called a wh–e. I work in the oil patch in canada and sorry to break the bubble of the author it isnt the way it looks like from the outside. In the oil patch their is a saying “no snat-h in the patch”. we have medics on site on oil and gas projects and mostly the medics are women. they were told by their management to wear low cut tank tops in client meetings so that the company could grt more projects. so i cannot understand shy we fantasize the west so much and think that somehow modernization is the same ad westdrnizationRecommend

  • Anoop


    As you have pointed out the situation is different in different parts of India. The place where I come from, there is absolutely no threat to any women venturing out at any time of the day. But, not places in India are as cosmopolitan as Bangalore.

    North India, where the sex ratio is skewed has a higher rate of crime levels against women. It has to do with the skewed sex ratio, I think. Recommend

  • Anoop

    There might be 2 reasons for this, from an Indian perspective.

    1) Places like Delhi are metropolitan, most of the people are educated, women are embracing modern ideas, but it is also a place where crimes against women are very high in India. I think the reason for that is the skewed male-female sex ratio. I can’t explain it in any other way.

    Just hop over to Bangalore, same metropolitan culture, modern-era women, but no such crimes against women. Here, the sex ratio is not skewed. I see the 2 related. Come to think about it, Kerala which has more number of females than males, hardly records any crime against women. That I think is an indicator to the problem faced by Delhi.

    2) Where the local culture is prohibitive for the female sex. Many parts of India are still conservative, but almost all of Indian cities do not belong to that category. The HIndu culture in scriptures is very open about sex and treats female as an equal. For that reason, it is easy for Indian regions to gradually transform from being a patriarchal society to a equal one.

    I don’t really know if Islam will allow such freedoms for women in Pakistan, which is a pretty sad thing.Recommend

  • Zalim Singh

    @ Ali Tanoli come and try to ride in empty bogi of new york train alone at 9.00 pm and let me know what happend to u miss. and dont forget woman is man Kamzori.

    Even staying in New York has not cured you of bigotry. If you are comparing the freedom of women in NY with Pakistan- you need to be out in a corrective institution.Recommend

  • Sameer Qadir

    It is and will be upto the women to break the taboo’s of society. Pakistan has had a woman as its Prime Minister. Not many countries in the world give this privalage to its women. Yes, these women wanting to achieve something need support from society, and perhaps understanding. That is why I feel that a womens revolution can actually happen. The role of a school teacher has always been that of a motherly figure. I believe, if these women in this powerful seat decide to form a cartel, a club and start doing things like biking or motor cycling collectively, winds of change will come about in the bigger cities as a begining. However, all said and done, when my wife, who successfully runs an art gallery independantly, comments on how cute Tom Cruise is, should that be construed by me as a sexist remark. Or if I look at and admire another woman, duly noticed by my wife, am I a sexist. We are educated people with our strengths and weaknesses. We are trying to live in a society, at cross roads between fundamentilism and freedom. Education only can derive our final path. Til then we will each continue to admire each others beauty, respectfully or as the article says ” as dirty minded uncles”.Recommend

  • Luqman

    You west follower do not blame my beloved country. Its way better than all over the world. Every one knows what happens in other countries. Recommend

  • romeo

    @ Sehrish Wasif…………………which Pakistan you are talking about. I dont agree with you on your topic and I dont understand how your topic got space in HT. Anyways, people of Pakistan have not turned that bad and ugly as depicted by you in your topic. Any woman or girls when they go out of the house they should always go in respectable dress will always get respect from the opposite sex. But when woman exposes herself that means she is inviting trouble for herself and it is common even in the west. In Karachi/Lahore, woman do go out and they do ride on motorcycle, cycle or car and I have never seen people talk bad about them. Yes, people do talk bad and hurl abuses when woman exposes herself with sleeky, transparent and short dresses revealing their body in public.Recommend

  • al

    I agree with Rizwan ahmed..and u should be thankful that you dont have drunk men walking around on streets openly and harassing women!! Like they do in other countries! and men everywhere are like that!! Has nothing to do with being a Pakistani Woman! Stop bashing your country!Recommend

  • popsaeed

    You dont understand man attraction point male stare veil female just search any attraction if female cover properly male mind find no attarction and then search for other female for attraction Recommend

  • obaid

    a woman is not an object she is a human agreed it is the nature of human to always look at the opposite sex put looking and gawking are two diff things..a change starts from an individual,if we start to give reference of rapes and kidnaps of women in other countries we will end no where…… Recommend

  • Vigilant

    Above account can be true up-to certain extent but not 100%….in our country women walk on roads with fear….they work in fields and farms as regular routine…..they go to work with-out harassment….but riding bikes by women is not our culture so if u want to change it u need to be strong….i would suggest to make a group of like minded women and go to work to-gather on bikes…..after some it will become routine and no one will even look at u….sitting in a room & complaining will not solve problem…..

    “When I go out, I hear cheap comments made by strange men, cars follow me and old uncles shamelessly stop their vehicles and offer to give me a lift”
    You cannot blame all on men….tell women who are earning bread and butter by prostitution… not wait on roads for their potential customers…. Recommend

  • Advice

    Well…U can cover yourself with hijab whenever u feel like going out … “Just an advice” …PeaceRecommend

  • maz3tt

    what woman wants? yaar someone out there should write on this topic as well.

    i will be logical here like it or not. everyone like to look at the beautiful scenery , love the pleasant weather , like to look at the beautiful furniture. love beautiful car . this is natural , so they look at the woman to envy their beauty . Islam is the most natural religion , so it has made compulsory for woman to cover their body. at least they should wear some sort of clothes that doesn’t display there beauty to the others. marry at the early age so it will help both man and woman to not gaze at each other. normal Muslim unmarried man not staring at a woman , either there is some thing wrong with him or he is only portraying. Muslim woman has to accept this it is natural and do something about it

    in the west there has been comments above it is not the problem please don’t be a foolish here you know the reason why.Recommend

  • asma

    @Anila Weldon:
    who are you and where do you live? really in karachi? well im happy atleast one of us is enjoying life in real sense :) and if i get a chance i would love to ride a scooty!Recommend

  • asma

    @Salman Sheikh:
    yes and giving birth to insensitive men as well… that will solve all of our problems!Recommend

  • ifrah

    @Zeeshan Arif:
    ya right there is a difference between rape cases being reported and actual rape taing place….maybe u should know thtRecommend

  • ifrah

    @Anila Weldon: OMG she was not talking about the upper 1 per cent class whtz wrong with youRecommend

  • maz3tt

    and secondly in addition to what i have written above this topic is really exaggerated whenever it is being talked over or written. i believe the situation is not as bad as being voiced by people in print or electronic media. Recommend

  • Ishaa

    In this country, you can wear a burka and the men’s eyes will still follow you all the way. And that’s a fact.Recommend

  • Saeed

    I think women can dare to ride a motorbike the only thing is to dare and show attitude to face the world but utmost with modesty,and the rest will get immune to changing world ! Recommend

  • Mufazzil

    I wish we all could change this :( Recommend