Stories about sexual assault

Iftikhar Lund as a human rights advisor is like a wolf drafting a charter on the rights of sheep

From the ashes of World War II rose the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This international instrument granted a special place to the concept of human dignity. Article 1 of the UDHR states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Today, more than a hundred constitutions across the world make some reference to human dignity, either as a right or as a value that the state is to aspire towards. Although there is a wide disagreement about the ...

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Who faced the music better: Meesha Shafi or Ali Zafar?

This week saw yet another development in Pakistan’s first #MeToo case: Ali Zafar spoke directly to the media for the first time since he filed a defamation case against Meesha Shafi for accusing him of sexual harassment. Zafar confidently told the media that Meesha’s case has been dismissed and he has been proven innocent by the court of law. This is blatantly untrue. In fact, it is a vicious way of misleading common people who are unaware of legal proceedings and only believe what they hear Zafar say on the news. What is actually happening? Firstly, according to Nighat Dad’s statement, Zafar has ...

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#IBelieveHer, and so should you

Throughout her advocacy for sexual assault survivors, Tarana Burke, the founder of the Me Too movement, has mentioned how action being taken in any particular case does not bring her personal joy. She repeatedly reminds us how this is not what the movement is about – it is about healing for the survivors. Burke is not delusional with the idea that sexual harassment will disappear from the world over the next decade, but she believes a shift in narratives – how we talk about it – is possible by then. If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as ...

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Don’t invite child abuse victims if you can’t be sensitive or respectful towards them, HRPC

I was in attendance at the ‘Conference on the Protection of Childhoods’ that was held on March 17, 2019, at Al Hamra Hall, Lahore. The first conference of its kind held in Pakistan, it was organised by Human Rights Protection Centre (HRPC) and Positive Pakistan. On paper, the conference was supposed to provide a platform for change and awareness for the public on child sexual abuse. The panel had acclaimed media personalities, government officials and even a retired justice from Australia, Dr Robyn Layton, who has spent all her life working for child protection and women and children rights. On paper, ...

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Amber Heard vs Johnny Depp: Is the credibility of #MeToo and women survivors under threat?

Last week, actor Johnny Depp hit his former wife Amber Heard with a massive $50 million lawsuit, which alleges that Heard’s claims of domestic abuse against Depp were a “hoax” intended to “advance her career”. Not only is Depp arguing that his then-wife’s case was completely fake, he is also alleging that he was the victim of domestic violence. Depp’s lawyers claim to have a lot of evidence, including almost 87 video surveillance clips from around their home and testimonies of numerous witnesses including the couple’s friends and neighbours. Even though the court of public opinion has already demonised Heard ...

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6 reasons why you need to distance yourself from that ‘friend’ of yours

When you hear the word abuse, what do you think of? A man physically abusing a woman or a person who isolates and belittles their romantic partner? What needs to be discussed more is how friendships can also become abusive. An ‘abusive friend’ may seem like an oxymoron because we are taught that our friends mean well and do what’s in our best interest. Like abusive romantic relationships, abusive friendships start out looking great on paper. You meet a new friend, who compliments you a lot and is eager to hang out with you. The same person who said that ...

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Ladies, if you think your man is #goals, you definitely need to raise the bar!

Ladies, have you ever been told that you have ‘really high standards’ when it comes to men? That you need to lower the threshold a bit, otherwise you will never ‘find anyone’? Or that you need to make some ‘compromises’ to be in a relationship? When it comes to dating or finding a husband, women are constantly told they cannot find a ‘perfect guy’, which is why they should just be happy and settle for a man who seems to be a reasonably okay person. If the ‘boys will be boys’ trope wasn’t enough, it has been made very clear to women ...

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Dishonoured

For every person, there is one emotion they can never handle with ease. For me, that emotion is anxiety. As I stand amidst the neon lights and blaring music, my hands are sweating profusely and my eyes dart from corner to corner in search of a means of escape. My heart is clogged with a lump that threatens to emerge in the form of tears. The atmosphere around me is so loud that I feel my own personality melting into the beats of the drums. But no matter how much I wish to, I can’t drink away the troubles of ...

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The year of Zainab: Pakistan was jolted awake by the abuse of its children, but is that enough?

She stood by the footpath, her shoulders slouched because of the heavy bag she was carrying. I was waiting at the traffic signal in my car and something about her caught my attention. She was a fine kid, probably 10 or 11-years-old, and was coming from the school adjacent to where my car was stopped. She had two pigtails tied with blue ribbons, and yet her face was very tense. It had an unpleasant, don’t-mess-with-me expression, while her body language could best be described as stiff. Every woman reading this knows the expression, because it never goes away. We are taught to ...

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Counselling survivors of rape: “Who will marry me if I’m not a virgin?”

It’s not easy to live life after being robbed of your sense of safety. The pain is multiplied when it reminds you of the helplessness you experienced. You cannot tell apart the physical hurt from the emotional and no amount of reassurance is enough when you know that no one can empathise with what you have been through. You find no comfort in their concern and the shoulders offered to lean on can never be enough. You’re startled by the touch of even your loved ones and it takes a great deal of time to remember that touch was ...

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