Harassment is one of the most common issues present in Pakistan as well as other countries. There would not be a single girl or lady who has not been harassed. It does not only include sexual abuse or physical violence, but also bad touch or unwanted staring. A common example of harassment, which is noticed in everyday life is: a girl walks by, experiences hooting and dirty comments from boys sitting at the corner of the place.

Actually this is something that needs to be addressed immediately, but unfortunately in our country this issue is not taken seriously. These incidents of daily harassment lead to bigger incidents of rape and sexual abuse. We live in a society where women are not respected as they should be. This is something to be ashamed of; even today people think that ladies are a source of entertainment. Even children who are not mature enough have learned to pass comments on ladies who are at the ages of their elder sisters.

If I share my experience of being harassed, it has happened so many times that I don’t even remember many of the incidents. I, being a student, have to travel on public buses, and have often experienced people passing comments regarding looks, staring badly from top to bottom, and sometimes also inappropriately touched by people or the conductor in the bus. But it is not a big deal for me, these kinds of incidents happen almost daily, so most of the ladies (like me) ignore it and keep bearing this nonsense.

In our society, girls are taught to keep quiet following these kinds of incidents. It may be because parents are scared that these people may harm them if they respond to them. And this does happen considering the many cases of acid being thrown on girl's face and rapes reported. But as a result of this silence, the harassers are getting more freedom and confidence. They do this not because they are interested in someone, but because they take it as an activity for daily entertainment. Even if you rub grease on your face, as long as you are a lady, you will be harassed by these people of cheap mentality.

Most of these cases happen with maids and ladies collecting trash, because they don’t have any back up support. But what can we say about the maids and other uneducated people when we, the people of well-educated and civilized families, cannot raise voice against such people. Even in my family, such cases are being ignored. If I am with my father and someone hoots or harasses me in any other way, my father would never say anything to him; instead he would ask me to keep quiet and ignore if I am trying to say anything.

This happens often at our home. Once my cousin was going to the parlour, she was followed by a guy who was continuously hooting at her and calling out her name loud in public. As she reached home, her brother saw him and started fighting with him. People around involved in the fight and the guy threatened my cousin to meet him alone. The guy called him to meet him alone at night. He took his father and the neighbours who saw the fight. When the matter reached my father he got very angry and said: “Usko zaurat kyat hi parlour jaanay ki, koi ussay shaadi mein jaana tha?

I was shocked to hear this from him. My mother then explained to him that she goes alone everywhere, whether it is parlour or coaching, we can’t confine her to home just because of the fear of being harassed. If this is the situation of a well-educated family like mine then we can imagine how illiterate people would react to their daughters being harassed.

One thing that I need to highlight is that harassment has nothing to do with education. I have seen many highly educated people indulging in such cheap thrills, like bullying girls. I, who study in one of the most reputed universities, have been harassed several times by the students of other departments. This is something to be ashamed of, that in spite of being highly educated, people still possess dirty mindsets.

I have seen many girls in the university who prefer not to go alone at some places because of the things that students do when they see a girl walking by. But I am never scared of this, because I am used to it. I’ve been travelling alone since college life and use public transport. The people who travel in public buses are dirty minded; you will experience people giving you dirty looks, a hand pushing your back from the previous seat or the conductor trying to touch you while collecting the rent.

I’ve also seen ladies fighting in public after being harassed, and then being insulted by the culprits refusing to own their wrongdoing. A few days ago I was reading the news that a six year old girl got raped and nearly killed, but fortunately she was saved. Another news: a girl in 7th grade was raped by a pion of the school with the help of a teacher.

After hearing such type of news I get very disappointed that people in our society don’t respect women. In such a society where women are treated as a source of entertainment, where women are not safe, where ladies prefer to take their younger brothers or children for their safety, and where people protect the ladies of their family, but don’t give the same respect to other women, how can we expect any welfare and progress in such a country? Where rape victims never get justice and rapists are not given any punishment, how can such a country be prosperous?

A few years back I saw on TV that a man used to rape dead women by taking out the fresh dead bodies from their graves. When he was caught, the interviewer asked him: “Have you got any sister?” he said: “Yes”. The interviewer said: “If someone does something like this to her what would you do?” He said: “I would kill him.” The interviewer said that those ladies were also someone’s sisters, someone’s wives someone’s daughters, whom you abused. But when it comes to your sister you are saying that the one who does such things should be killed.

I regret that in our country there exist such people who want to protect their ladies, but don’t care about other ladies. Not only in Pakistan but harassment has been a problem in other well developed countries as well.

SAUDI ARABIA: Nearly 80% of women ages of 18 to 48 said they had experienced sexual harassment—including street harassment—in a study reported in Al-Monitor in 2014.

UNITED KINGDOM: 64% of women of all ages have experienced unwanted sexual harassment in public places. Additionally, 35% of women had experienced unwanted sexual touching. 85% of women ages 18-24 had faced sexual harassment in public spaces.

USA: The survey found that 65% of all women had experienced harassment. Among all women, 23% had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual.

This proves that no matter which country we are in, harassment is common everywhere; ladies are not valued the way they should be. I don’t understand why people abuse any lady when they have mothers, daughters and sisters at home.

I am ashamed to live in a country where women are followed by whistles, kisses and unwanted stares and whatever has been done to them, it’s their fault. If a woman gets raped and claims for justice, first she is asked a lot of embarrassing questions like: Where were you going? What time was it? Why were you going alone? What were you wearing? And so and so forth. This is something remorseful, that anyone who is a rape victim is interrogated in such a way that the victim gets guilt-ridden and ashamed of herself.

A woman is not safe, no matter what she wears, where she lives and what she looks like. People are always there to harass her. This is something to be addressed as soon as possible, because the criminals are making the most of the leniency given to them.