‘Not All Men’ Is A Rallying Cry In Support Of The Countless Men Victimising Women In Pakistan
Not all men. The statement is hurled by the vast majority of the incorrigible men of our society every time yet another brutal case of sexual or domestic abuse makes headlines. Its proponents often find issues with what women are wearing, and what time they’re out. They also use religion to reject the domestic violence bill. But, of course, they find it inconvenient to lower their gaze or hide their lust.
Nearly 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan each year in so-called ‘honour killings’, for allegedly violating conservative norms on love and marriage. Recently, Pakistan has seen a drastic rise in the number of cases of sexual abuse and violence against women. This July alone was riddled with scores of ghastly cases.
July 4: A video went viral showing two men beating their sister and mother with helmet and hammer over inheritance.
July 6: The domestic violence bill was rejected with clerics and religionists coming out against it pushing Imran Khan to ask the Council of Islamic Ideology for review.
July 7: Usman Mirza, the co-owner of Autoland, was reported to have broken into a hotel room where he sexually assaulted a couple and proceeded to extort Rs1.3 million.
July 15: Sindh’s former secretary irrigation, Umar Khalid Memon, allegedly tortured his wife Quratulain for hours and killed her in Hyderabad.
July 18: Raza Ali allegedly shot dead his wife and injured his children in Peshawar. On the same day, the daughter of the Afghan ambassador was reportedly kidnapped and injured.
July 20: Zahir Jaffer beheaded Noor Mukaddum.
Let’s not pretend these men are outliers. They aren’t the savage Taliban. These are men we know, are friends with, and see every day.
The victims weren’t targeted owing to their clothes. Zainab wouldn’t be with us even if she was made to wear a veil.
‘Is this Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ is a question that is somehow always asked when objecting to a woman’s dress, but never when a woman is assaulted. Those asking women to stay home don’t realise the number of women being assaulted at home.
Marital rape doesn’t even get reported, or discussed, because of social pressures. Women are often torn between reporting the violence to end it and wanting the breadwinner to not be jailed.
According to an Aurat Foundation report there were 2,297 cases of violence against women from 25 districts countywide last year as people were forced to stay home because of Covid-19 restrictions. Hence, the domestic violence bill is being shelved when the crime is at an all-time high.
Imran Khan has his hands tied, because he wants to please the religious parties for smoother governance. The phenomenon of religious leaders wanting to keep themselves relevant has existed since the time Pakistan’s first constitution was being drafted.
Even so, the leaders aren’t the only ones to be blamed. The bigger culprit is the psyche that leads to the knee-jerk chant of ‘not all men’, which translates into support for a celebrity beating his wife, a singer sexually harassing a colleague, and a writer abusing women on TV.