Talking rape; face the monster

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_Ramblings of a disappointed Pakistani 

Rape. A topic that is hardly discussed in our households, but one that can’t be ignored.

Most rape victims are expected to shut up and pretend like it never happened. Those who dare to report it to the authorities are questioned about their character and what they were wearing. Most of the times, an FIR isn’t even registered.

Almost every time, the rape victim is publicized more than the rapist themselves. How many of you know the names of the men who raped Mukhtaran Mai? That’s what I thought.

Of course, I’m not stating anything new. I’m not enlightening your minds with facts and figures or realities that you didn’t already know. I don’t even know why I’m penning down these thoughts. Just a way to understand and cope with society, I guess.

 

“Not every woman who gets raped is able to fight society to get her rights … She is treated like an active participant in the scenario, rather than the victim. “

The question here is how a woman, who has been raped finds it in herself to break from the shackles of this society. How she tells herself “This doesn’t mean I’m broken or I’m flawed – I’m the same person I was and society does not get to tell me there’s something wrong with me.”

Mukhtaran Mai recently walked the ramp at Fashion Pakistan Week – fourteen years after she was paraded naked on the streets, after being gang raped.

Mukhtaran Mai broke free from societal norms that would expect her to live in shame because of the events that happened to her, and became an advocate for women’s rights in the country.

Mukhtaran Mai, who lives in fear and receives threats because she is outspoken and points out the flaws in our society, and the rampant patriarchy that hangs around women’s’ necks like a noose.

Mukhtaran Mai, who like many other strong women in the society, continues her work despite the criticisms and fingers pointed at her, every step of the way.

But Mukhtaran Mai is one in a million. Not every woman who gets raped is able to fight society to get her rights. Unfortunately, many aren’t even able to report their abuses, at the risk of being ostracized by society. She is treated like an active participant in the scenario, rather than the victim. 

These are the people in society we should be looking up to. These are the people who should be our idols. These are the people who deserve applause.

Mukhtaran Mai walking the ramp at FPW puts the spotlight on her and the work she has done – it gives power and strength to these women who are a reality of our society. Rape happens. Sexual harassment happens. And it does not discriminate between the strata of society you belong to. It is a reality for every woman in this country.

If we continue to sweep it under the rug, it will continue to be a part of this society.

If we continue to be uncomfortable while discussing this topic, it will continue to be a part of this society.

If we continue to look at raped and harassed women as “flawed”, it will continue to be a part of this society.

Speaking up is one of the best ways to fight back. Often, it creates a sense of shame. But this time, it’s placed on those who are actually at fault.

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