It’s not the first time that a woman is raped. She has been raped whether she is single or married, whether she is the 5-year-old Marwa or a mother of three. It’s not just Pakistan where such a terrible act is committed, but this evil is universal and common to the inhumanity of human beings. But what is different for Pakistan is the lack of accountability for such a heinous crime that happens every day in all parts of our country.

This recent rape case has caused a lot of uproar probably because it hits close to home. We always hear of such cases in rural areas and we protest and raise our voice but when it happens to someone who we can relate to it hurts more, it scares and shocks more. She was one of us.

Ever since that day, I no longer feel safe as I used to. Living in Islamabad, which is a relatively safe city, I no longer feel secure driving alone at night or going for a walk. I realise my education, professional experience, sense of empowerment only means that I can work along with men and hold my own space in our male-dominated society, but even at 7 at night walking alone in my neighbourhood, I am as vulnerable as a less privileged, naïve woman in a village. For the first time, I feel helpless and forced to acknowledge that no matter how strong I tell myself I am, at the end of the day, a strong male can hurt me and do whatever he likes against my will and I am dependent on another male to protect me; a father, a brother, a husband or a good friend.

This incident shook me. It made me very angry. I also realised that venting this anger at a social media platform isn’t a choice I wanted to take this time. What’s the point really? I strongly feel that the voice we are raising to support Marwa or the mother in the motorway incident needs to be vented towards demanding one thing and only one: punishment.

For the first time it is being demanded and that’s exactly what’s required. Our Prime Minister has called for rapists and child molesters to be chemically castrated and I cannot agree more.

Human beings as early as the age of one start learning through operant conditioning. B F Skinner, an American psychologist, stated that operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through reward and punishment for behaviour. Through operant conditioning an individual makes an association between a specific behaviour and a consequence.

He believed that behaviour that is followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be repeated, and behaviour followed by unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated.

For example, if at a young age you tried smoking at school, and the consequence was that it got you into the “It” crowd you always wanted to hang out with, you have been positively validated and rewarded and you would most likely to repeat the behaviour. If, however, you were caught and suspended from school, you would consequently be much less likely to smoke now.

Punishment weakens behaviour and can eliminate a behaviour. If anything, I have learned two things in my years of learning about the human mind. Firstly the major influence on human behaviour is learning from their environment. It’s literally like when a teacher needs to just scold one student and the entire class gets their act together. Secondly experience leads to transformation in human being. No matter what we say verbally, unless we experience what we say to ourselves or others transformations don’t happen. Trying these behaviours and then getting feedback from the environment modify behaviours.

Sexual abuse, child molestation and rape are serious offences. Unfortunately, we live in our country where the popular belief shared by all classes is that you don’t get just in Pakistan (Pakistan mein insaaf nahin mil sakta). And how did we arrive on that conclusion? Through experience where most people, either through the use of power or bribery, get lucky and go free.

There have to be laws in place for all these offences and punishment, not only defined, but also implemented if we want us women to feel safe. When we support ‘me too’ we are told by esteemed actors like Noman Ijaz it is moving away from religion (deen se doori). Isn’t sexually harassing, molesting little girls and raping mothers moving away from religion too? Islam emphasises on reward and punishment equally. So in whatever way possible, whether small or big, let’s demand one thing and one thing only. Punishment for offenders should get implemented. This has to be done sooner than later; for a woman like me who believed she was empowered until being gangraped in front of her children or the uneducated helpless one in the village. This country belongs to us as much as to the males.