This country is not safe for women. Only within the past week, we have come across multiple horrifying cases of femicide. Qurat ul Ain was killed by her own husband. A young girl, Saima, was shot at by her own father who injured her siblings and killed her mother as well. Noor Mukadum was first shot at, then beheaded by Zahir Jaffer, the son of an influential businessman. All these heinous acts were committed by men who were no strangers to these women. Women are not safe outside their homes, but they aren’t safe inside their homes either. Crimes take place everywhere, but that does not mean they are justified, or that we should simply accept them as a routine occurrence. The conversation where we identify all the ways we have failed as a society needs to take place. Law enforcement and the government is to blame, no doubt, but these are definitely not the only parties that are responsible.
When a woman ends up killed or violated, it is often asked what she was doing in a certain place. A ridiculous question that makes it seem like the woman who is in her home is safe. Women are killed and tortured by strange men, boyfriends, friends, cousins, uncles, brothers, fathers, husbands and sons. Women are not safe anywhere, and it is time to accept the fact and do something other than blaming the victim by asking pointless questions and making absurd statements. It is time to discuss and deal with all the reasons that allow men to take women’s lives and even get away with it.
The problem starts when society raises entitled men, who seem to think that it is their right to dominate over women, to do as they wish, and have all their misdemeanours and faults ignored and credited to the fact that they are ‘boys’. Boys are allowed to mature with age and time, instead of being taught to be responsible for their actions. Most of our male population is first fostered by their mothers, and then by their wives. These men who are incapable of ever taking responsibility for their actions, and who come from households where their disregard for the women in their families is not frowned upon, grow up and infiltrate all institutions of our country. The men in our government, law enforcement, courtrooms, schools and public service offices, are these very men. Those who have enormous egos and cannot handle rejection.
A factor that we cannot ignore is religion and those who preach it —or a twisted version of it. People are so easily influenced by so-called scholars that they have almost no ability to think outside the religious bounds we have formed as a society, not those that come with our religion. What really enables the egoistic, entitled men in our country to commit heinous acts of violence against women is the fact they feel backed by these ‘scholars’ and their rulings. Only recently, a council of Islamic scholars rejected the Women’s protection bill because they feel threatened by the very idea of women not being under the total control of men. This same delusional religious sentiment is what drives men to kill in the name of honour. They kill women for making choices according to their own desires and get killed in the name of the very religion that considers the murder of one person to be the murder of all of humanity. It is insanity. A tribune article from this month reports that 81 women have been killed in the name of honour in Pakistan in 2021. What does that say about our men? They believe it to be their right, and their duty to kill their daughters, sisters and wives when they do not abide by the dictation offered by the men in their lives.
Let us stop believing that women alone shape the personalities of their children. In a society such as ours, in which men overwhelmingly dictate the lives of women, let us stop pretending that those same men do not very strongly influence what a mother teaches, or does not teach to her sons. Spoilt men raise spoilt sons who go on to make the lives of the women around them, difficult. We must also not forget that misogyny is not just deeply rooted in the men of our society, but also in women who, when they become mothers, pass on that misogyny onto their children. But of course, it is not these women who commit acts of violence. It is the men, and it is time, we accept the fact that the burden of responsibility of all the horrific acts of violence against women, be it physical or emotional, lies with the men of our society. Yes, all men. Because it is on them to put their foot down and change for the better. To become allies of women in protecting them from men. The solution is to, for once, stop focusing on telling what women should or should not do to be safe, and instead tell men what to do or not to do to not endanger those around them.
So what should men do? Stop enabling. Call out other men when they do anything that could cause harm to those around them. Report all harassers, rapists, abusers even if they are their friends or family. Have conversations to wash out the toxic mentality of their peers. Stop finding faults in the victims, and hold only the perpetrators responsible for their wrong-doing. Men need to fear facing the consequences of their actions before taking steps to harm a woman. Stop asking or even thinking that the woman must have done something to provoke the man because it is irrelevant. Nothing a woman could ever do would warrant such a despicably violent response that could destroy her life. Nothing.
The solution lies in holding men accountable and starting to believe women. Every woman is always one man away from disaster. If and when that disaster strikes, they must be believed, protected, and served justice. Men feel equipped to do as they wish, and it is time to take that away and equip women with the right to be protected. It is time to stop reducing the atrocities being committed against women to mere hashtags.