On September 9th it was reported that a woman was gang-raped by robbers in front of her 3 children while on the motorway from Lahore to Gujranwala. The response from local authorities, such as the CCPO angered many who took to social media to express their disdain about his ‘victim-blaming’ and questioning why the woman was travelling so late in the first place. Subsequently, protests have begun across Pakistan to not only call for an end to the despicable rape culture but to also implement justice and call for the resignation of authority figures who defer responsibility and shame victims.
With the tragic and atrocious death of 5 year old Marwah at the hands of a neighbour, followed by the motorway incident, women in Pakistan do not feel safe. On Friday, September 11th, the women of Jamaat-e-Islami held a protest demonstration in Karachi. Similarly, on Saturday, the 12th of September, women and men both across Pakistan took to protest the rape culture prevalent in the country, calling for an end to it.
Demonstrations took a place in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, collectively displaying a sense of strong solidarity and unity against such heinous crimes and no justice being sought. The Aurat Team held a protest with people from all backgrounds coming together with signs, posters and messages against rape and the lack of safety for women in the country; ultimately calling for the resignation of the CCPO Lahore and others who agree with a toxic mentality of victim-shaming.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Khadija Siddiqui, an activist and lawyer who was stabbed 23 times in a 2016 attack, stated "Such statements from people in charge should start with an apology in failing to protect citizens of Pakistan, she added "they should apologise that women in this country have to suffer every day,"
The secretary general of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Pakistan, Harris Khalique, spoke about gender based violence in the country, stating "Legal and policy measures need to be taken. The attitude change in society has to be brought, the increasing misogyny and intolerance of difference of opinion are all linked to each other,"
Yesterday, women from all backgrounds came together to hold a protest necessary for the nation to hear the cries of “victims” and the oppressed loud and clear. No longer are the women afraid but they are standing tall together to call for recognition and rights. Whether it be women from the media fraternity or working women, housewives, mothers, anybody. Even men came out to protest against such horrendous crimes from continuing. Although the protest was loud and large it will not be the last one.
The media fraternity has made it clear that the protests against rape will continue to happen, occurring tomorrow and until reform and action is taken. No longer do women or the people of Pakistan want to live in a society where rape culture is the norm.