A woman’s scream at a jalsa

Published: October 5, 2014
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This needs to stop. We need to scream, kick and shout when an incident like this happens. PHOTO: AFP

First of all, I would like to make it clear that I am in no way trying to defame any political party. I am writing this simply to highlight our failure as a society.

That being said, I would like to get straight to the issue, an issue that, sadly, I encountered at a recent jalsa I went to. This is an issue that I’m sure thousands of women in Pakistan face everyday but, somehow, it never surfaces enough to be addressed as a serious fault in our society.

I’m talking about the harassment and groping of women in public spaces. This is an epidemic. There are countless perverts present in our society and I’m sure most of us are aware of that. Even burqa clad women are not safe from their uncouth catcalls and wandering hands. Such is the dilemma of our society.

Therefore, one can imagine what such filthy people can do if they are present in a jalsa, where everything is so haphazard. In today’s Pakistan, jalsas provide the prime opportunity for this scum of society to enact their filthy fantasies.

At the jalsa I went to, the area reserved for women was filled with men and many women came across this issue.

However, what I want to ask is why did it come to this? When there was a designated area assigned for women and families specifically, how on earth did groups of young and old men alike enter this area?

Where were the security personnel and party workers who are supposed to make sure that such problems don’t arise?

Why were women forced to stand into lines with these degenerates? To pass through huge throngs of men who did nothing but grope you and ‘accidentally’ fall on to you?

It came to a point where, as I was leaving, a man grabbed me very obviously and I shouted a stream of curses addressed to him and he and his friends simply ran away quite easily while no one, and I mean no one, even batted an eye. My mother even slapped a guy but no one asked what the commotion was about. No one stopped him. No one asked me if I was okay. No one cared. I think our society has come to the point where unless it their own mother or sister being harassed, no one cares.

Is this how low our level of empathy has fallen? At one point, we claim to be making an effort for a better Pakistan but when an opportunity arises for us to actually do something as individuals, for us to raise our voice, we shrug it off as someone else’s problem. Is this the better Pakistan we’ve hoped for? I fail to understand how we can achieve a better Pakistan if this is how we remain. Your leader can not bring change alone – you have to help him! And you need to start off by changing yourself as an individual and member of society.

This kind of behaviour apparently happens at every jalsa. No matter the city or political party. It happens. I tweeted about my experience, only to receive a myriad of replies of people recounting their own horrifying experiences. Every gathering where men like these have an opportunity to harass women, they do it, without any qualms.

This needs to stop. We need to scream, kick and shout when an incident like this happens. We have to make a scene and not be afraid because it is our right to go places without being inappropriately touched. And to everyone who is a witness, if you see things like this taking place, raise your voice – for if you don’t, you’re as much at fault as the perpetrator.

So if you feel that I am merely slinging mud and have offended you, then I am sorry you feel that way. I am merely writing this so I can ease my conscience for the fact that I said something.

Serious precautions need to be taken by the organisers for such events. They need to make sure that if an area is allotted for women, then there should only be women in it. And to the women who may, in the future, face a similar situation, speak up and not be afraid. Punish the wrongdoer.

A changed Pakistan can only take place with a changed you!

Rameeza Ahmad

Rameeza Ahmad

In my free time I am a literature buff, amateur writer and aspiring foodie. She tweets @Rameezay (twitter.com/Rameezay)

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