Going out in Pakistan is a chore. A needless chore. It is so annoying that I’d rather stay in than be out of my house. And this is why.
Pakistani men are frustrated. So frustrated that they get their sexual and adrenalin high by staring at random women and girls. It doesn’t matter if you’re covered in dupattas or walking around in tights…. As long as you’re out in the ‘man’s world’ you asked for it!
Since childhood I didn’t like crowded places. I didn’t enjoy the staring, the whistling, the hooting, the singing, and the additional random brushing against the body. Have you also encountered how the men stand in your way just so you can ask them to move?
A friend of mine, who by the way covers her face, has stopped going out with her kids because of the harassment she faces. Her husband, not happy enough with the wife all covered except the eyes now suggests she stays at home, as he can not stand how men behave around her. Another friend of mine complained of harassment, angry that her husband never noticed. I just said to her, thank God, he doesn’t or he would grow so paranoid you’d never see light!
Anyway, yesterday I went out, especially took out my shalwar qameez to go to the tailor… and yes, this is another reason why I don’t wear Pakistani clothes. Anyway, so I go out and suddenly I’m public property. Stubbornly I go on, carrying on my duties, after fifteen minutes I notice that no one’s looking at me or singing or whatever! Why? I’m so shocked I stop in my tracks! Had I been imagining things before? And then I see them. Three twenty some things in their pants and sleeveless tops having ice cream and buying jewellery while laughing. As I pass by them I notice that a boy is rather loudly singing for them. I feel a pinge of protective instinct for the girls. But then I withdraw to protect myself and comfort myself by saying, “why are they wearing such clothes and laughing in publicly. They deserve this harassment. They are clearly asking for it”. Then, I heave a sigh of relief. Thank God, the boy is not singing for me.
Did you see that? Did you see how I changed instantly? How selfish I became? In an instant. My self preservation instinct so strong….. I blamed the girls. Because they were laughing and surprise surprise, shopping!! Totally forgetting that I’m harassed even when I’m all covered and carrying my child in my arms. In fact I am harassed more with my child in my arms because I’m more vulnerable.
This is what we do to our women. We make lives so difficult for them, we pressurize them, harass them, make them feel vulnerable and insecure, to be protected only when they are with a man … and then we say Aurat aurat ki dushman hoti hai totally forgetting the role our “men” play in her life.
But yes, women do err in one case. When mothers don’t raise their sons right, when they don’t teach the sons to watch their manners or space, when boys aren’t taught to lower their gaze. So because of such dodgy parenting, we, all of us women, are in deep shit! Every day!
(This is probably a badly written piece .. but you see its disturbing to write it and I don’t have the emotional energy to improve it for literary reasons!)