Beware women and children. Stay home to stay safe. If you do not comply, you might get gang-raped. And it will be only your fault. How dare you go out? You were certainly calling for it. What could the authorities do, after all? An unfortunate and shaming incident on Wednesday has just taught us this.

We women should understand that it is still a shock to see a woman at a public space without being escorted by a man. And women get punished for it. They get sexually abused. And then obviously, the victim is blamed instead of the culprit.

For now, is the only solution for women to be safe is to stay at home? Really? Is it really fine to rape a woman, that too in front of her children, because she did not have a male escort along? Was this going on in the minds of the rapists?

In a society where discussing sexual abuse is a taboo, such maltreatment exists. There is a need to address the issue to prevent it and to our embarrassment, the need is being felt more and more.

There is a need for community engagement by creating awareness. People need to be made aware about the consequences of this multifaceted problem. False perceptions need to be addressed. The media also has to play its part responsibly. There is also a need for effective legislation, its implementation and making the masses aware of it. Needless to say, public-friendly police and courts are of utmost importance.

Why can’t we still make the presence of women at public places normal? How many more years, decades, generations, rapes, and killings would it take to treat women and children the way they should be? Is this the way women and children were treated in Riyasat-e-Madina? When will we see our Riyasat-e-Madina?

Apart from teaching our sons how to behave, we need to have an increased participation of women in all spheres of life, to make conditions favourable for them. I realise the need more so every day.

Afsana Afsar,

Islamabad.