Start moral policing, blame women for not wearing enough clothes if they get harassed – are these not repetitive sights in the world where men dominate?
Rather than holding harassers (which are men, in majority cases) accountable for their actions, blaming women for ‘causing’ it by inappropriate clothing is a norm ultra-religious and patriarchal societies. Unfortunately, Pakistan falls in the said category.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s recent notification speaks for it. Although it has been withdrawn following the backlash from rights groups and the social media community, it is important to address where the governmental priorities lie and what is their approach towards the issue – which, unfortunately, doesn’t look very optimistic yet.
According to the notification, the female students of government schools were directed to cover themselves to ‘protect them from any unethical incident’. If this was not enough in itself, an education official, while speaking to a local media source, further added that the women have ‘developed a habit of wearing half chadar, which has lead to the increased incidents of eve-teasing’.
“A good number of girl students have developed a habit of wearing dupatta or ‘half chador’, which is not sufficient to cover their bodies,” the official commented.
But the question remains there: is it my responsibility to hide my identity so I don’t get eve-teased or should the government stakeholders be debating on how to hold the harassers and rapists accountable?
In an ethically lagging and gender discriminatory society, where women are already treated as an agency of men, such a narrative further pushes us back. Pakistan, where children, minors and even vulnerable young boys are not safe from being harassed and raped, the provincial government’s bizarre stance strengthens the idea which always blames the victim.
What sort of conversations are we having? In a country where daily 9 to 12 cases of child abuse are reported, among which 56% of victims are girls and 44% are boys (Cruel Numbers, 2017), can we afford to hold on to our worn-out, out-dated and misogynist values any more?
Rather than sexualizing bodies of children by defining dress codes, we should now be stressing on legislation, implementation, and accountability.
REMEMBER – harassment has everything to do with the harasser and NOTHING to do with the victim!
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