Pakistani Society Largely Shares CCPO Lahore's Victim-Blaming Mindset

Horrific crime of a woman getting gang raped by armed men, in front of her kids, at the Lahore-Sialkot motorway; has been further made odious at the excuses and blame-the-victim mentality, by the CCPO and a large section of the society. Alarmingly, but with hardly any surprise, a large section of society not only shares his reprehensible views upon women’s mobility, but openly express them on social media. This sums up that the rot, indeed, runs deeper. To get to know the depth of such malaise, we will have to dig deep. A sociological perspective might come handy in this regard.

Is blaming victim deeply ingrained in people’s psyche? The social evidences confirm this. It represents in many form at social and individual level. It is a relic of the nomadic, tribal and semi-tribal culture. There, one was part of a small social organism, carrying all the responsibility, of his or her actions in a group, a familiar dwelling of known faces and places. A person’s family, clan or tribe was all that he or she had. There was hardly any life without family, clan and tribe.

The social norms, rituals, customs and traditions conditioned and mold a person. He or she, born, lived and died in the same family, home and tribe. Any untoward incident was duly found out, dealt with almost immediately and justice or social order was restored. If not swiftly established, it was promised and carried out as and when it was possible. They system or these arrangements worked as per the existing norms and the conditions.

Contrary to this, modern life on other hand is poles apart. Individual freedom, countless choice of social life, varied professions, personal anonymity and financial independence along with the presence of relatively secure life or a sense of security, has resulted in different cultural practices. People have choices; they make choices or made to make choices. They have a life outside their homes, a street, a town. They have such physical mobility which would be envied by the past kings and queens.

This complex modern life is organised by the government, private and public institutions and service providers of myriad kinds. These professionals and their professions along with their particular institutions and organisations are answerable to the public who pay for these services. Of course the personal responsibility is of foremost kind but the victims are supposed to be treated, looked after and cared for first and then people’s responsibility would be questioned explored and investigated. That’s how an incident would be reported. The culprit would be sought, caught, trialed and would be awarded the due punishment. Till then, the law enforcers would try to restore the order and people’s faith in the system and would do their utmost to carry out their duties in a thorough professional way. These are sort of standard procedure orders.

While womenfolk and children are usually the victims of blame game, generally every weak vulnerable person in a given situation, regardless of the gender, could fall prey to blame-the-victim mindset. Even in a family a boy or girl is often taunted, mocked for his or her certain harmless clumsiness. Since everyone is not that sharp, articulate; the person with a bit of simple mindedness is often taken for being stupid. Worse, sometimes they are tarred with the adjectives having severity like mad, fool. The same happens when someone is cheated by a swindler, is given a wrong item by the shopkeeper or has been made a victim of scam by some crooks or a gang of organised criminals.

Politicians blame the common folks for voting their rival politicians. They ignore the fact that masses do not have their personal think-tanks to guide them to vote for 'angels'. They vote whom they could vote. Moreover, politicians cunningly overlook that the people are the victims of their choices too. Shouldn’t they be more considerate in their criticism? They definitely need to. Do they show such consideration? Rarely.

Individuals, society and government and its institutions will have to come out from this tribal mindset of blaming the victim. Modernity is not just about the motorways and metros; it’s about the plethora of institutions, organisations which provide vast numbers of services and which are answerable to the public who find them through their taxes indirectly or pay for their services directly.

Modernity is about open minds, coexistence, doing away with the primeval fears of unknown, and doing things in a civilized manner. It’s about the belief and practices that people have their rights and the institutions they have built and are running must do their utmost to protect and secure these rights. If violated, these institutions must remedy them and show transparency in all this process. The old ways of doing things must be replaced by better and best available methods and practices in line with the people’s rightful expectations. The choices must be made sooner than later.

The status quo of colonial mindset of native and the ruler needs to be replaced by the native people serving their own people. Time is never at the side of those who are confused Hence, clarity of the mind is the first thing to achieve. People in power, position and in authority do not have to reinvent the wheel. Trialed and tested methods and solutions are already there. The only missing thing is the political will to utilize and apply these programs and solutions.
It’s not the job of the common folks but their leaders, elected members and the administrators, who hold their positions and perks thanks to these folks. It would be a grave misconception on the part of these people in power and position that somehow this incident too will pass. They may assume that the mainstream media somehow could be muzzled as happened in other instances. This assumption could be at best misleading. People’s collective memory may be short but the presence of social media will keep the issue alive in a manner which was not possible in a pre-social media revolution. Mainstream media might be compromised but the social media will have no let up. They can ignore them at their own peril.