Lahore’s Hafeez Centre Is A Den Of Sexual Harassers And Bigots
Hafeez Centre is a popular electronics plaza in Lahore where shoppers go for all their tech-related needs. However, the environment of the place is extremely repulsive. Any woman who has ever been to that place would know that the men who work there are sexually frustrated as they harass and ogle every female passerby. I am a 30-year-old woman and know full well how to deal with such men, but even I can’t go to Hafeez Centre on my own without a male escort.
And literally every woman I know who has been to Hafeez Centre has the same views about that place. Last month I broke the screen of my phone and was looking for a place where I could have it repaired. I knew about Hafeez Centre, but I did not want to go there due to the reasons mentioned above. I convinced a male friend to accompany me so that I could avoid the situation I have dealt with before. We went there together but even with a man but even his presence could not save me from gazes of the perverts who act like they have never seen a woman in public before. Luckily I wasn’t cat-called that day because I was with a male friend, but every time I went there alone, I had to deal with the sexual harassers who make women feel uncomfortable as if it is their right to do so.
Apart from them being habitual sexual harassers, they are also bigots of the highest order. Many shops in Hafeez Centre have put up a message at the entrance banning the entry of Ahmadis. “Ahmadis should first enter into Islam before they enter this shop”, read a message outside one of the shops which I saw during my last visit.
This tweet posted sometime back and the responses to it confirm that many women share my thoughts about Hafeez Centre.
Hafeez Centre is by far the worst place for women in Lahore
— Ailia Zehra (@AiliaZehra) July 17, 2020
I thought I was the only who avoided going there at all costs. I’d rather have a broken laptop. Thanks. https://t.co/0r3UUv4wcq
— Dr. Khadija Khan (@khadijakhan095) July 17, 2020
I go there acting like a soldier in a battlefield: chest puffed out, hyper alert, staring down everyone and weapon cocked.
— Sabahat Zakariya (@sabizak) July 18, 2020
Uff so true https://t.co/chJRJXbOmG
— Nayab Gohar Jan (@NayabGJan) July 17, 2020
Truly. I can't even count the number of times I have been groped, cat called and harassed there. It came to a point that I would ask my brother or father to get me what I needed without telling them why I wouldn't go along. https://t.co/RJ7p8Oa42q
— Sara Mahmood (@sara_mrana) July 17, 2020
Yes. You get harassed n groped if you go there alone. This is the place where you badly need a Male chaperone.
— Pernia Khan (@PerniaKhan) July 17, 2020
To be honest, it’s one difficult place to go to, if you have any tech issue-It seems as if a woman can’t step foot in that area-
— Faiza Irfan (@FaizaIr87782923) July 17, 2020
Many of my friends have experienced the same attitude from the shopkeepers and workers there. One of my acquaintances told me that she was inappropriately touched at the centre two years ago. Another friend recalled how a trader came out of his shop upon seeing her and passed an inappropriate comment on her clothes. If you’re a woman and plan on going to Hafeez Centre, my advice to you is to immediately change your plan because you will face a different kind of hostility there. It goes without saying that members of the religious minority communities should avoid the place as well. I am not suggesting that avoiding going to that place is a solution, but considering the several complaints women visitors of Hafeez Centres have come forward with, it should be clear that the people who own and manage that plaza should be told to act and mend their ways.