Mothers, sisters, daughters, wives- all were safe in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, unlike many other countries where men were dominant and ruthless due to the mere fact of their physical strength. But Pakistan was a “ghairatmand” society, and what is important than respect to the mother, who is said to hold heaven beneath her feet?

And thus when news started spreading, that young girls and boys were being raped, and that the problem of harassment of women was widespread in the bazaars, the religious right wing took no time to come out into the streets to protest the irreligious abuse of women and children. After all, adultery, rape and murder were sins, no one could forgive, and no one wanted to. It was too heinous that such things even existed in Pakistan.

These learned men, Ulema as they were called, could not bear that such crimes were happening right under their beards. They occupied D-Chowk in Islamabad and demanded that the government apprehend the criminals. Else they would not leave. The sanctity of their homes was at stake. They understood that women were human too, and they understood, that were they in a woman’s shoes, they would not feel safe in the country that was so dear to them and that their religion taught them kindness, compassion, and equality. After all, Islam was a religion that gave women property rights hundred of years before states in the west did. These men grew up on the stories of Hazrat Khadija (SA) and the Prophet (PBUH) and held the massive corpus of hadith that Hazrat Ayesha (SA) had recorded close to their hearts. They also understood that Islam was threatened by their own kind; men who kill and main and rape, and they had a responsibility to eliminate this social ill. They actually wanted to prove that not all men are rapists and murderer and the fact that all rapists were men set their ghairat ablaze.

They had no time, or hate in their hearts, to start condemning minorities in Pakistan. Neither did they hurl abuses at the Supreme Court, nor did they take money from army officers. They were law-abiding citizens and protest was their right, and they did not try to damage government property. After all, they were all taxpayers and respected private and public property. They would not commit treason by challenging the writ of the state. They believed that Islam was truly a religion of peace and that all sects, castes, and creed were welcome in Pakistan.

For his part, Punjab Law Minister also saw the problems with clarity. Last year when he got to know that there was child pornography ring in a town in Punjab, he immediately condemned the practice and promised police reform and rehabilitation for the victims. Not once did he suggest that the scandal was over a land issue or a feud.

In fact, there was even discussion in Parliament, that since most crimes were committed by men, there should be restrictions on men’s movements. This would act as an equalizer, against the social norm, that women should stay hidden, and not go out alone, especially not without some sort of veil, for their own safety. It was not the fault of women and children that men could not control themselves. Hiding women away in veils and chardewaris didn’t solve the problem. If men could not get their hands on women, they would go for children.

The law never passed, because just as the idea that a woman should be blamed for an attack on her was thought to be stupid, it was also stupid to blame all the men in Pakistan. After all, the ulema and the mullas were protesting for the protection of women from male harassment. There were sensible people in Pakistan. Had the protest not happened, had the government not taken serious action in Kasur last year, the law might have passed, and men would have been restricted to a curfew. After all, what do you do to a predator? You cage him or kill him. Who in their right mind blames the victim, whether woman or child? Who in their right mind thinks that Ahmadis are a threat to Islam when there are thousands of men, woman, and children living in abject poverty in need of advocacy that is being wasted in hating minorities (for no reason at all except boredom and political manipulation)? Who in their right mind thinks that women should not have the right to education, and should not work when repeatedly, girls outperform boys in school and despite all the obligations society and family puts on them, perform as well as men at work, even when given lower incomes? Who in his right mind justifies rape and violence by stating that a woman deserves it because of her dress, or demeanour? What sort of a society hushes these issues, and makes them taboos? What type of society doesn’t have the subject of violence on children and women as a part of the Jumma khutba?

Not Pakistan. There were no rapists and murders in Pakistan. And when we found dead children, we said “Never Again,” and we were honest.