Muhammad Arif : Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), Former Head of FSCD SBP, Former Head of Research ArifHabib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, Former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan

Recently Lahore police registered a case against hundreds of unidentified persons for assaulting and stealing from a female TikToker and her companions at the city’s Greater Iqbal Park on Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14.

As per the FIR reported, the complainant stated that she, along with her six companions, were filming a video near Minar-e-Pakistan on Independence Day when around 300 to 400 people “attacked us”.

She said that she and her companions made a lot of effort to escape from the crowd. Observing the situation, the park’s security guard opened the gate to the enclosure around Minar-e-Pakistan; the FIR quoted her as saying.

While detailing the graphics of the assault, the woman indicated that the mob picked her up and tossed her around. “I was stripped and my clothes were torn apart,” she said, adding that she cried for help but no one came to her rescue. While her gold ornaments, cash and mobile phone were also snatched in the process.

The police have launched a search for the accused after registering a FIR, First Information Report but many on Twitter, including a trove of celebrities; have lost complete faith in humanity. Many have dubbed the incident as the last straw, claiming this proves that if 400 men can be complicit in assaulting a woman in broad daylight than none can be trusted.

Some days back while standing in queue in Gerry’s office for my wife visa to London as a respect I asked a woman with a child to enter in. At this one young boy started shouting that he was in the Queue first. I explained him the reason but he did not stop. At this I told him to shut up. This is how our men behave with women who are our mother, sisters, and daughters.

“I can’t believe what I just saw! I’ve said it before and I will say it again – make an example out of these men!” wrote Mahira Khan sternly. In another tweet, she continued sarcastically, “Damn, I’m sorry, I keep forgetting – it was HER fault! Poor 400 men, they couldn’t help it.”

Actor, rapper Ahmed Ali Butt also shared the Minar e Pakistan illustration on his Instagram Stories and wrote, “Truly heartbreaking incident which took place at the most iconic monument, shame on us indeed.”

Actor Mansha Pasha added, “What they will say: Pakistan is an Islamic Republic and Madina ki riyasat. What is the reality: Woman molested by 400 men at Minare Pakistan on Independence Day during Azaan. We preach religion and patriotism here but we follow hedonism and barbarism.”

Actor and singer FarhanSaeed also tweeted, “Disgusted, furious, heartbroken and ashamed, ashamed of being a man today. [I am] ashamed that the men ofthis country keep doing these horrible acts every other day, ashamed that the law of my country does not hang these predators so that this doesn’t happen again!”

Osman Khalid Butt added, “Another day, another incident, another moment we find ourselves collectively hanging our heads in shame. Action, not just condemnation, brings the perpetrators to justice.”

Actor and producer Adnan Siddiqui urged, “Now that we have a plethora of evidence of what unfolded at minarepakistan .Can we finally see our police in action by putting those men responsible for this gruesome act behind the bars? Is this too much to ask for our women?

Television personality AamirLiaquat, however, tweeted after having ‘conversed’ with the Prime Minister Imran Khan. “Just spoke to the PM Imran Khan regarding Minare Pakistan Incident, Imran Khan is sad and angry over the Lahore incident. Ayesha will get justice soon Insha’Allah.”

Actor MawraHocane, who rarely takes to the micro-blogging site, also Vlogger ShaheerJaffery commented on the incident and its response in a series of Twitter threads as well. “Just saw a few comments on the video with people (mostly men) saying stuff like ‘acha hua’. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what the educated Twitter class thinks or says. The majorities of people are just trolls and would see what happened as ‘just’!

He added, “We’d defend our sisters and daughters to the point that we can lay our lives for them. However, some random girl passing by is an opportunity to harass. Narrating the incident, Jaffery added, “The girl screams for help as she’s groped by hundreds of men. There is Azaan going on in the background. I’m finding it hard to wrap my head around that scenario.”

PPP representative Aseefa Bhutto Zardari also tweeted, “We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand. Pakistan is not safe. Not for our women. Not for our children. Our children aren’t safe from rape even in death. This is the disgusting shameful reality.”

In a similar incident in June, an elderly woman was subjected to torture and sexual assault by influential people in Punjab’s Mazaffargarh to avenge her son’s love marriage.The accused not only tortured the 50-year-old woman but also tore down her clothes, dragged her and burned her half-naked body with cigarette butts.

The recent grisly murder of Noor Mukadam, the 27-year-old daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, by the scion of a wealthy business family has raised many queries regarding the safety and security of women in the country.

Renowned German broadcaster “Deutsche Welle” or DW has thus rightly flashed headlines that Noor’s murder has exposed toxic misogyny in Pakistan. Although most crimes against Pakistani women go unreported, a few local/international NGOs and media houses do come out with some eyebrow-raising statistics in this context from time to time.

For example, a few years ago, the London-based “Thomson Reuters Foundation” had ranked Pakistan as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women. Eminent British newspaper “The Guardian” had also quoted this survey report in its May 9, 2019 edition.

Meanwhile, the “DW” had held: “Pakistan ranks as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women, with cases of sexual crimes and domestic violence recording a rapid rise. Activists blame society’s patriarchal attitudes for the problem”.

Women are victims of violence and abuse, and the country still lacks a law against domestic violence. Last year the country saw around 1000 honour killings of women and girls, a practice that has been exported to the West.

It had maintained: “Pakistan is ranked amongst worst countries for women in terms of economic resources and discrimination as well as the risks women face from cultural, religious and traditional practices, including so-called honor killings. The country also ranked for non-sexual violence, including domestic abuse. In Pakistan, 90 percent of women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes”.

On July 14, 2021, a PTI MPA ZehraNaqvi had moved an adjournment motion in the Punjab Assembly over killing of 81 women for honor across the province in the ongoing year. Archival research tells us that between January and November 2020; at least 83 women had been killed in the name of honor in Lahore alone!

In Sindh, as a media report dated February 19, 2020, had revealed that as many as 769 people, including 510 females, had fallen victim to honor killings between 2014 and 2019.

In its May 9, 2019 edition, “The Guardian” had written: “There are many ways of killing a woman. You can stab them, shoot them, strangle them, drown them, explode the gas stove and make it look like a kitchen incident. Some women do survive because their killers didn’t use enough force or they were just plain lucky. There are many ways to get away with murdering a woman. It used to be easier: the killer could claim that it was an honor killing; the woman had brought shame to the family”.

The newspaper had opined: “The police were understanding, judges lenient, and the law itself provided loopholes by calling it murder of passion. You could get away with a couple of years in jail. Or if the killer was influential, (and even within a poor family, the male killer is influential, his life worth a lot more than that of the murdered woman) the victim’s family could forgive the killer. Now laws are a bit more stringent but that hasn’t slowed down the killings”. In the 2019 “Women, Peace and Security Index,” Pakistan was ranked 164 out of 167 countries.

Another report said Pakistan was the worst among nine South Asian countries on access to mobile phones, financial inclusion, and discriminatory norms for women. Around 12.2 million girls, compared with 10.6 million boys, remain out of school in Pakistan, poverty compounding challenges to girls’ educational opportunities.

Not long ago, the Switzerland-based “World Economic Forum” had stated that 5,000 Pakistani women a year are still being killed in the name of ‘honor.’ In September 2019, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had rung alarm bells over plight of women in Pakistan, saying 430 cases of honor killings were reported in Pakistan during 2020. Of these, 363 were women and 148 happened to be men.

The “Global Gender Gap Index” of the World Economic Forum, had ranked Pakistan at third from bottom a couple of years ago. Pakistan was placed at 151st number out of 153 countries. According to another report of the Aurat Foundation”, another Pakistani NGO working for rights of women, almost 70% of women in Pakistan have been victims of domestic violence, at least once in their lives. This violence is generally committed by their intimate partners – husbands. These figures, however, do not include psychological violence, which is even more common in urban communities.

A survey carried out by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) had exposed the fact that one in every three women in Punjab (aged between 15 and 64 years) has suffered violence. This survey was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development in collaboration with the Bureau of Statistics and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women.

This is how we treating women in our Riaste Medina.

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