Stories about victim blaming

The infamous ‘char dewari’ failed to protect Karachi’s gang rape victim, now what?

Women and their clothes made for viral news recently when the Haripur District Education Officer (DEO) issued a notification which stated that all schoolgirls must wear burqas since it will ‘protect’ them against harassment and rape. The move left Pakistanis divided, with some vehemently calling out the government, while others blatantly supporting it. Those for the decision, argued that a covered up woman will inculcate ‘decency’ and, for the lack of a better word, ‘tame’ the raging hormones that supposedly, largely remain out of men’s control. An extension of this argument says confining women within the four walls of a house will also protect them from predatory males. Although the notification ...

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Unbelievable treats a sensitive issue in a very believable way

Presenting a sensitive issue like rape without sensationalisation and while offering utmost respect to the victims has always been difficult for the popular media. In my opinion, the way that such issues were portrayed in 13 Reasons Why is an example of how these issues can be used to make money. The recent Netflix original titled Unbelievable, however, takes the road less travelled.  Instead of merely touching upon the topic of rape for enhancing numbers and revenue, this sensitive series examines the real life trauma felt by rape victims. Based on a 2015 news article “An unbelievable story of rape”, this Netflix miniseries portrays ...

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Nusrat Rafi is to Bangladesh what Jyoti Singh was to India – a rude awakening

Nineteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi should be doing what any other average teenager does in their day: sitting their exams, stressing about their results, surrounding themselves with piles of books, and spending time with their friends. Instead, 19-year-old Nusrat is being mourned by her distraught family after she was doused in kerosene and set on fire. Her crime? She filed a police complaint against the headmaster of her madrassa who sexually harassed her. In Bangladesh, like many other conservative countries, sexual harassment is a taboo subject and women are reluctant to speak out against those who harass them, for fear of ...

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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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Khudparast: An apt depiction of all that is wrong within our society

Amongst the current trend of depicting social issues and taboos through the medium of TV dramas, the hit show Khudparast takes the lead, as it encompasses everything wrong within our society. The story revolves around the life of a lively girl named Uswa (Ramsha Khan) who doesn’t believe in living by the rules. She has brothers who are all married, and her free spirit is a thorn in the flesh of their wives, as they are constantly plotting to bring her and her older sister, Mariah, down. Their constant hatred towards their sisters-in-law is unbelievable, and yet shockingly uncanny. However, Uswa ...

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Surviving R Kelly in the #MeToo era: Because one victim’s voice is not enough for justice

Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and now R Kelly. Like countless other men, these men were accused and guilty of sexual abuse and assault against women. Here is the situation that continues to baffle many people including myself: when a woman claims she was sexually abused or assaulted, the man in question always tends to deny it. Why does our society and justice system always defend the man? Despite living in a time and society where we want to empower women, why are they not being listened to in the first place? Believe it or not, there are enough people out there who ...

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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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#MeToo: I was 8 when he taught me that a woman’s body is everyone else’s but her own

“Dekh ke aahangar ki dukaan mein Tund hai shu’le, surkh hai aahan.” (See how in the blacksmith’s forge, Flames leap high and steel glows red) I was 15-years-old when I wrote a letter to my father. I was struggling at school, getting into trouble in the neighbourhood and fighting with my siblings at home. You know the usual teenage angst. I wrote, “Dad, I know what S* uncle did. I remember everything. I need help.” The week after, my father insisted that I attend a family friend’s wedding with him. At the wedding, he asked me to step outside the hall for five minutes. ...

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Because how can the GOAT Ronaldo ever rape a woman, despite her saying ‘no’ and ‘stop’?

Cristiano Ronaldo is so many things; father, son, partner, friend, mentor, hero, celebrity, athlete, and now an alleged rapist. Fans all over the world are offended; how is it that the hero they have put on a pedestal is accused of such a heinous crime? Is this a conspiracy by Lionel Messi fan boys to drag down Ronaldo’s good name? His admirers have come together to show their loyalties and back their forever favourite. In the midst of all this, I, a former Ronaldo fan, choose not to give him the benefit of the doubt. In cases of sexual ...

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