Fragility thy name is Women - Recently, in Lahore the horrific suicide of Anum Tanoli ( A Pakistani model) was an instance unforgettable for perhaps millions of girls in Pakistan who face the fear of shaming every day and perhaps are on the verge of losing themselves. As for Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) 2018, Lahore has been declared to produce 2753 complaints of cybercrimes and 257 cases of sexual harassment and blackmailing, still a silent majority of woman scared to take action against the culprits.

Unfortunately, in terms of cybercrime and sexual harassment, Lahore has rather become a place for eve teasers to exercise their patriarchal and chauvinistic right of slut shaming women. With the advancement in social media, there is a new platform provided every day to people for advertising their thoughts but sadly, all we hear are still more tales of torturing women with the tool of character assassinations. With women on margins in Lahore, the question arises that apart from being an advanced city in terms of education, fashion and business, why women in Lahore are the ones suffering in this narrative?

To understand this phenomenon, one must first and foremost consider the fact that Lahore is a hub of schools and universities and here people from all around Pakistan are taking admissions in various medical and engineering universities. With increasing youth in Lahore every day, there are increasing chances of cybercrime as well. Lahore not only gives exposure but also opportunities of interaction between both sexes which blossoms positive at the same time negative sentiments amongst the students in a university or school. This subject apparently may seem very trivial, but this is one of the root causes of woman harassment in Lahore. In university events, we see so many videos and images taken unwilling or secretively which in the longer run cause problems for several girls. And let’s not forget the candid images that are leaked on social media everyday slut shaming a lot of girls who perhaps are not even aware if their image is taken or not. During all the instances, there are university confession pages that post everything without filtering contents and hence the pressures on girls increase even more. In this time of unstoppable crisis, woman deactivate their accounts and hid themselves from social gatherings because they fear the consequences of the known i.e. the reality of woman getting slut shamed and bashed publicly on social media and openly universities. Sadly, their side of the narrative is never heard. Despite giving them education, we are also giving them a fear of being too vocal.

Broadening the canvas even further, Lahore is a centre of employment opportunities attracting several Pakistanis every day. But one thing that adds to the factor of cyber harassment is the increasing pressure of career which forces men to assault women either out of professional competitions or harass them in worst cases to satiate their rage of failure. In almost all the disciplines of life, we might find cases of assault and slut shaming, simply because men are in majority at the current phase and they exercise the domination well. At work places, women have a limited number and unfortunately must majorly be answerable to their male superiors. Under such a suffocated environment, women again prefer keeping their mouth shut simply because they fear the known i.e. they are aware of what has been happening for years at their offices and institutions. Hence, they stay quiet to keep going with their jobs but somewhere deep in their heads, these women are being tortured every day. Furthermore, these women also feel a certain pressure from their families who want them to skip all the details concerning their office and their male colleagues specially. It seems as if the parents are living in an imaginative flux believing that there would be no interaction/dynamics between both genders in the office.

In addition to all these instances is #metoo movement which on one hand has made women vocal but on the other hand has increased even more pressure on women, who are suffering from actual harassment issues. Even if women are getting vocal about their experiences, there is still a majority who is trivialising their tale and mocking the #metoo phenomena. Here once again, even the vocal woman must reconsider repeatedly what to say and what not to say in a culturally diverse setting of Lahore. Also, in terms of religious perspective, Lahore has been a hub of discussions for religious seminars that encourage discussing woman as a liberated being who need to be tamed. In such instances, even the women empowerment organisations and well-known forums resist from taking a strong opinion on the forefront. Even the vocal and empowered women in Lahore are stuck in this complex situation of staying quiet or saying all.

It is high time that we must understand the dynamics of sexist attitudes in Lahore causing great amount of cybercrime every day. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s step of joining the circle of leadership on preventing sexual abuse is amazing but at the same time, this harassment must be controlled by actual measures. The legal system should be maintained and mention strict time parameters for resolving the issues. There are several anti-harassment cells available in Lahore and all over Pakistan, but women are scared to be vocal about their stories because they do not aim at becoming a sensation for the rest of year on media. There should be very private measures taken to swiftly deal with the cases of cyber harassment and even sexual assaults. Awareness is important for tongue tied woman in Lahore, hence the awareness must be done on all levels. The commissions of Women Empowerment must also utilise maximum resources in eradicating harassment as it should be top priority. In this regard, HEC must also take plunge for some anti-harassment activity in universities so that the youth in general can understand the graveness of this subject and discourage every harasser despite the gender difference. We must produce a generation that would speak for its rights and only then we can truly provide equality to woman in all realms of life.

 

The writer is MPhil in English Literature.

areebasohaail@gmail.com