Is Rape Really The Outcome Of Vulgarity?

Is Rape Really The Outcome Of Vulgarity?
Every man aged 60 years or above professes Islam in this country. Some start early but then they usually have more than two wives. Imran Khan has finally learnt politics and the rule, 'say one thing, do another'. If rape incidents are on the rise due to so called increase in vulgarity then first we need to define what vulgarity is.  Is Mahira Khan vulgar? The kind of debates we Muslims often get into, cannot possibly have a logical end.

People often praise Hamza Ali Abbassi for lecturing a contestant in a reality TV show on Bol TV when she auditioned and danced on an item song. The other two judges Javed Sheikh and Kubra Khan gave the usual comments but Hamza objected to the fact that the contestant, who was a 16 year old , was dancing on an item song. Hamza further said that it is unfortunate that our film directors include this vulgar song in the film which is usually sexually provocative and has no actual need to be a part of the film.

As much as I agree with him, I also care to question as to who would then define what is vulgar enough.

The PM is clinched between praise and criticism from all around ever since his thoughts about rape incidents irked many. In a nutshell, the PM meant to say that the rise in rape incidents is due to the rise in vulgarity and has less to do with the perpetrator's sinfulness. Go in a bit deeper, what it may also mean is that the perpetrator has no choice but to give in to his desires if he comes across a pleasurable temptation.

 Although it might be true in some cases as some maniacs have been noted to be biologically defective and ultimately becoming sexual criminals, Khan's ideology has no basis in reality and was rather just a political statement which unsurprisingly also garnered quite an appreciation from rightists. The PM even forgot the fact that when it comes to preadolescence boys, there are a lot more of them than girls as victims especially in the very places where Islam is being preached-a madrassa.

 Such offenders are rather especially looking for vulnerable boys than girls and find them more attractive. Even women who never wore a dupatta in their lives are siding with Khan by saying, “Does Islam not teach the same about women's dressing and vulgarity?" The same thing said by a Molvi is unacceptable to these women but thanks to Khan's cult, these women would accept the same thing coming out of his mouth. Anyway, is vulgarity the actual cause of rape incidents?

There are many factors when it comes to offences and naturally disgustful acts such as rape. Also there are degrees to which some  rapes are considered severer than the other. For instance, raping a child is abhorred a lot more than raping a woman. Rape or being tempted to act on sexual temptations carries a long psychological chain until the act is actually committed by the perpetrator. So let us unfold this mystery.

The first cause of any crime in the society starts at home and many of the individuals are raped by their own close or far family members. Committing a murder is easier than committing a rape as in murder one does not have to touch someone but in rape a lot more delicacy is required as the perpetrator in his imagination is only looking to satisfy his pleasure, it is not a rape in his head. That is why it becomes a lot more convenient for the perpetrator to go for someone within the family.

Talking about family, one’s bringing up has also a lot to do with how a perpetrator's psyche gets developed. It is my firm belief that in many incidents the perpetrator has also been a victim at some early point in their childhood. Because our mind only takes us towards things we have seen and not the things we have not. I have often seen parents getting mistaken in who to trust their children with and whom not to. Quite often the ones they trust are not as noble as they seem and the ones they don't trust may be bad but not bad enough to sexually assault their child. Eventually an innocent child becomes a food for  sexual predator and one day becomes the monster himself.

Another factor which may also have given rise to such incidents is the lack of opportunities for work in Pakistan. There are only two jobs in Pakistan sought after by people, one is Army service and the other is government job. Any other job is not even considered a job in the public's psyche and there are but few in the form of bankers, some big executives, and some high paid journalists and lawyers. So there is a big chunk of people who are unemployed and have got nothing to do. Some get into drugs, others fight with their families, some serve in Madrassas and collect chanda, and the majority of these perpetrators are from this lot. That is not to say that poverty is an excuse to commit crime but it definitely plays a role into making a man criminal. As is said, "an idle mind is a devil's workshop". It becomes rather more convenient to do something criminal and derive at least some pleasure out of it: killing wife or sister in the name of ‘honour’, killing an Ahmadi to unconsciously garner praise from fellow muslims, rape, joining a gang, becoming a spy or a suicide bomber: all these options kind of become open in the idle mind depending on the surroundings.

Every time an incident such as rape happens, politicians try to cash in the opportunity to add to their public imagery. Quite often they would visit the residence of the victim's family and publicly extend their sympathy and cooperation. Sometimes they would go a step further by blaming the incumbent government for not having done all that they could and also give religious sermons by proposing a harder punishment for the perpetrators in order to put fear of God in them. This is exactly what happened soon after the Zainab incident in Kasur. Even non-politicians such as the media and former CJP Justice Saqib Nisar took advantage of the situation and made it look like this was the first time such an incident happened and a secondary motive also seemed to throw some dirt on PML-N. Anyway, soon after the incident, there was a huge demand from public to catch the offender and to give him severest possible punishment by public hanging.

Let us come back to the PM's ideology.
The PM forgot this ideology of women dressing when he married a woman who comes from a completely different culture: Jemima Khan. He forgot this concept when he was associated with multiple women while he was young and even later in his life. And now that he is 67 years old, a politician and married to a woman who covers her face, he has started to profess Islam. This is not just Khan, look around, you would find this mentality in almost every man. After they have done what they wanted to, in the way they wanted to despite having full knowledge of what the religion says about it then they would become religious.

A tendency of withdrawal is quite often seen in followers of Tablighi Jamat. I personally know quite a few disciples of Maulana Tariq Jameel who almost gave away everything after joining the movement and they were made to believe that success and money are meaningless. But then you see MTJ brand ready to compete with SanaSafinaz. 

What I mean to say is that we are all utterly selfish beings and would say or do anything to somehow enhance or protect our public image, either we do that one way or the other. Feroze Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi are professing an Islam of their own to somehow fit in their new image and also earn livelihood in the Showbiz Industry.

Nothing is more energetic than a human surge, especially felt after incidents like these. All that surge is usually wasted into the debate asking for severe punishments for the offenders. But has that ever worked? Despite the enactment of Zainab Alert Bill which provides comprehensive safeguards against acts such as rape, the sin is still being committed. 

All severe punishments do is make these criminals more sophisticated in their criminality and they become more careful not to get caught. This issue cannot merely be solved by punishing the offender in a more sophisticated or God fearing manner. It is rather like hoping a terrorist to give information on excessive torture which usually doesn't work on devoted criminals, the ones who cannot come back from the wilderness-irreversible.

In order to actually get rid of sins like rape, honour killings and sexual abuse we would need to nurture the society, bit by bit. This requires a most sincere input from all of us with an understanding that most of the crimes that we see everyday are a by-product of what we all are becoming; negligent, selfish and indecent. That is not to say that these criminals should be let free or rehabilitated. These individuals are usually beyond repair and rehabilitation, it is too late for them. However, not too late for those who have not become monsters yet. In order to prevent these incidents from happening in future we need an immediate mutation in the society as a whole and not some religious sermons blaming women.

The author is a barrister practicing law in Peshawar and Islamabad. He graduated from Cardiff University. The author can be reached at