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Women Panic Buying Pepper Sprays After Motorway Incident

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In the wake of several rape cases across Pakistan over the past month, there has been an increase in the sale of self-defence weapons, such as pepper sprays, pocket knives and stun guns.

A report published on Geo News said that social media users, mostly women, are searching for stories that sell non-lethal weapons as they seek to protect themselves from potential predators.

Amid an increasing demand, the stores have also started refilling their stocks.

“It is probably for the first time in decades that we are selling pepper sprays at our store — that too, after scores of women, especially young girls of school-going age, asked for this item in particular at our counters,” Geo quoted a mart owner in Karachi’s Saddar area as saying.

A manager at an online store told Geo that the sales spiked by 50 per cent — at least a hundred units a day. “People are now purchasing these items in bulk, indicating a rising panic among the general public,” he told the outlet.

According to the report, the admissions at academies that teach self-defence have also increased. “A trainer from one of the renowned kickboxing schools shared that admissions have increased by 30% during the past week. Females interested in joining the academy are aged between 16 to 30 years,” Geo reported.

Motorway rape case:

A woman was allegedly raped by two men in front of her children after her car ran out of gas near Gujjarpura, Lahore.

Police said the woman, a resident of Gujranwala, was returning to the city from Lahore on Tuesday night when her car ran out of petrol.

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It was reported that the woman called her husband, who advised her to call Motorway Police for help until he got there. However, the Motorway Police operator excused from helping the woman, saying the emergency beat had not been assigned to anyone.

As she was left to her own devices on the deserted road, two armed men approached the vehicle and smashed its windows. They then took the woman and her children out of the car and took them into a nearby field after cutting the fence along the road to rape her. The report said the woman was also deprived of Rs100,000, jewelry, and ATM cards.

Protests against incident:

Human rights activists and people from civil society in major cities of Pakistan, including Karachi held demonstrations against the incident. People demanded of the government to take measures in order to control such brutal and barbaric elements from the society.

Aurat March Lahore along with other progressive outfits also arranged a protest at Lahore’s Liberty Chowk. Their demands included structural reform of police that focuses on accountability and transparency to the most vulnerable members of the community, immediate measures to improve the safety of public spaces without employing paternalistic measures such as curfews, and an introduction of victim and witness protection programmes.

PM for public hanging:

After days of silence on the gang-rape of a woman on Lahore motorway that shook the nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed the public hangings and chemical castration of rapists to curb sexual violence in Pakistan.

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While talking about the gang-rape of a woman in front of her children last week, PM Imran said: “They [rapists] should be given exemplary punishments. In my opinion, they should be hanged at the chowk [intersection].” However, experts and rights activists tend to disagree with what the prime minister has presented as the solution to the problem.

Dr Nida Kirmani, who is a sociologist, responded that the announcement by the PM ‘misses the point that all men are socialised to a greater or lesser extent to be capable of such acts’.

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Naya Daur