Yet again, Pakistan’s unforgiving treatment of women has manifested in another instance of rape in Gujranwala. Audaciously, amidst the backlash against police officials for mishandling the motorway incident, this assault was reportedly of an officer’s doing. The perception of women as prey is society is one that now seems to be condoned and perpetuated by government and law enforcement agencies, leaving them completely vulnerable and severely disadvantaged as perpetrators run free and accountability as a concept evaporates.

It’s unfortunate that a body which is supposed to set a precedence, encourage justice and prevent the perpetuation of the widely accepted belief that perpetrators have impunity because the law does little to help implicate them, has become the embodiment of the backwards perception of women in society. Two weeks ago, the matter revolved around victim blaming and now, it surrounds a complete lack of respect for rights, laws and morality.

Each day, the number of assault cases against women rise and public officials remain quiet. The government turns a blind eye and institutions try to sweep the matter under the rug. The circumstances are such that safety cannot be guaranteed to women even inside their own homes because they are surrounded by individuals who have normalised the status quo for what it is—a threatening battlefield where the only one who looks out for this disenfranchised faction of society is the women herself.

Not much is likely to change if immediate and strict action is not taken. This culture of disrespect and complete disregard towards women is one that needs to be fixed immediately, whether it’s through enforcing strict measures for accountability or encouraging an organic change in mindsets through awareness and education. Otherwise, we stand to alienate Pakistani women completely.