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How to stop violence against women and children?

By M. Haroon-ur-Rashid Advocate

A new and alarming wave has been observed in Pakistan regarding violence against women and children. The cases against women and children have insanely increased since last few years. The latest incident is the rape of a lady in peripheries of Motorway in front of her children. How inhumane, how sad, how tragic, how shameful and how painful is the incident that words cannot express the feelings. Condemnation is no word for this viciousness.

A lady was robbed and raped in front of her children whiletravelling from Lahore to Gujranwala late night when in Gujjarpura area her car stopped suddenly due to shortage of petrol. The lady called police for help and found that no motorway police is deployed in that area. After few hours when police came, they found the lady terrified with her clothes torn and stained with blood. The kids were highly traumatised and were wounded too. It might look easy to state the incident but if you imagine the turmoil through which that lady and her kids passed, that will shake your soul. Just imagine how the mother and children will face each other for rest of their lives.

I am not here to discuss the details of this incident but I want to discuss how we can stop these incidents in our society;

(i) The first and foremost thing is the meaningful protest that should lead to the positive outcomes. I gave the example of American’s protest against the racist killing of George Floyd many times on my social media accounts. I repeat the response of Americans against racist killing was sustained and widespread. The demonstrators spinned the whole system of the most powerful country of the world that the govt. had to impose curfew in some parts of the country but the protesters defied even curfew in several cities. Huge protests were seen in the whole United States, somewhere peaceful and somewhere violent. But irrespective of liberals or conservatives, they came out together seeking justice in the society. Only such protests can be successful where nations join hands for a common cause forgetting the petty controversies running in the society. We too protest on such issues but in different small groups scattered at different places. This is the issue of every citizen, irrespective of gender. If this is the issue of protection of women in the society, this also is the issue of men in the society because such incidents bring shame for them every other moment. If this is the issue of a woman wearing hijab, this also is the issue of a woman wearing tight jeans. We need to put aside our political, social and intellectual differences and to demonstrate collectively for the common cause. I saw the women wing of a politico-religious party protesting against the motorway incident holding the party flags. Few liberal women were protesting at some other place with their own agenda and slogans. Such protests are useless. The students, lawyers, doctors, professors, political workers, social media activists, members of civil society, men and women should come out together across the country without party flags and party slogans demanding justice and peace for women and children in the society. This movement neither needs political slogans nor religious sermons, this needs the society’s will that the society is united against such crimes. If we still continue protesting confined in our own shells, it will bring no change in the society. When Dr. Sameeha Rahil Qazi and Dr. Farzana Bari,Dr. Perwez Hoodbhoi and Ehtisham Ilahi Zaheer will come together against this issue, only then the protest will be result oriented, otherwise the protests scattered in small groups holding party flags and slogans will not bring any change but will strengthen divide in the society. And the agenda of any such movement shouldalso be very clear; (i) removal (not suspension) of the victim blamers from their offices, (ii) uninfluenced inquiry of such crimes, (iii) punishment for the culprits, (iv) law making for speedy justice and (v) implementation of the existing laws against such crimes.

(ii) The other thing to do is the training of children at homes. Parents need to teach their children to give and take respect to their opposite gender since childhood. A gentleman shared an interesting story of his childhood that he and his a year older cousin (young boys) were playing in the ground when they passed some comments on a passing by girl. The girl told her father and her father complained to the father and the eldest uncle of the young boys. He told that when they came back home, his father and the uncle were waiting for them. They inquired them that what they said to the girl in ground, the flatly denied any such incident. But his eldest uncle asked them to undress and stand facing towards wall of the room and repeat looking at their manhood that today you brought this shame to us, repeat this until I stop you. He told this penalty being a young boy taught him a lesson for lifetime that how to respect the opposite gender. The parents need to train their sons not to respect mother, sister and daughter only but to respect every girl and woman they encounter their whole life.

(iii) The teachers who have become money making machines at schools, colleges and universities should go back to their role of spiritual parents. Students can pass the exams and earn the degrees even without the help of their teachers. Teachers should teach their students about social and moral values like tolerance, self-control and respecting others irrespective of gender and age. They should relate their lectures and lessons with the social responsibilities we bear towards the society. We also need to make the civic rights part of syllabus so that everyone becomes aware of his/her rights and responsibilities right from the young age.

(iv) We should stop blaming women for everything. We should try not to comment on their clothing behaviour. We should stop influencing them what they should wear and what not. And if it is very necessary to comment on the tight jeans and no dopatta of a woman then please also comment on the tight shorts, deep neck and skin tight shirt of a man. If tight jeans of a woman can seduce a man then the naked thighs andmuscular biceps of a man can also seduce a woman and if women start abusing men on such excuses, then what men will do, although it is hard to imagine in a male dominant society. So it is better to change your own clothing behaviour if you want women to change theirs.

(v) The very important thing to do is to promote Islamic values in the society. We repeat that Islam is the only religion which gave rights to women when they were neglected and had no rights but in many parts of the country we still deny their right to education, their right to marry of their own choice and their right toinheritance. We victimise them against the crimes committed by their fathers, brothers and uncles in the name of centuries old customs. Our religious clerics need to spread awareness through their sermons that all such regional customs are unislamic and will lead to Allah’s wrath in both the worlds. Being an Islamic state, we should make the Surahs of Qur’an part of our syllabus which describe the social customs and etiquettes both for men and women in the society.Surah Noor and Surah Ahzaab should be made compulsory part of school level syllabus so that young boys and girls come to know about their limits while interacting each other in the society. Besides, we need to reduce the cost of marriage making it simple and easy devoid of unnecessary customs like heavy dowry, huge amount of Haq Meher, Mehndi and feeding large number of guests on the marriages.

These are few short and long term steps we need to take if we really want to make our society able to live peacefully for all including women and children. Remember the Prophet Muhammad PBUH laid down the principle for a peaceful Islamic Society saying, “A time will come when a young woman laden with jewels shall travel alone from Sana’a to Hadramaut in last hours of the night and she will have fear of none except ALLAH.” And then the world saw happened it practically during the Rashidun Caliphate.

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