Rape is a brutal endemic that is spread all over the world. But what makes the pain of the rape victim in Pakistan more perilous is the silencing of these victims by the family and society at large. Sadly this is what happens in Pakistan where wide amount of rape incidents go unreported due to the “shame” factor associated with the victim. Why the issue is still considered to be a social taboo? What is the psychology of the rapist that often goes unexamined in Pakistan? Why is the plea of the victim ignored? Why is the rate of rape incidents going high in our country? There are many reasons for this, some of which are:
Missinterpretation of Islamic verses
The man’s superiority complex is further emboldened by the local mullahs at the mosques, some of whom ordain that sexual relations on demand of a man is his exclusive right no matter the condition of the woman (wife). Why Mullahs believe in this, owes to their lack of knowledge and misinterpretation of Quranic versus. In our holy book, it is ordained that you can buy a slave and can have sexual relations with them. Back in the 6th century, slave trade was an important part of the culture of Arabia and Islam sought to regulate this practice. Islam not only laid down the rights of the slaves but introduced the idea of freeing them in order to earn God’s grace, which was unheard of in the land before. But in today’s day and age the concept of slavery does not reconcile with the individualistic notion of human rights prevalent in the world today. The Mullahs knowingly or unknowingly recognizing the obsoleteness of this phenomena continue to press for the revamp of this practice. This can be seen from the countless fatwas given during Pakistan’s war with India in the past. Although Islam brought the revolutionary concept of giving women a humanistic position in the society, the Mullahs cashing in on the illiteracy of the masses peruse with the demand of curtailing the autonomy of the “weaker sex” (so to say). Due to the incessant propagation given at the Mosques and Madrsas, the men are made to believe that women are there as an object of their pleasure and they can gratify themselves in whichever way they want to which inevitably leads to massive abuse involving rape in the society. Although Islam gives the woman the right to refuse sexual activity in her times of discomfort but due to the unawareness among the masses, the Mullahs are able to convince the people that they can forcefully indulge in intimate activities with their wives. This naturally leads to rape within the marriage which serves as a blot on the Pakistani society. A woman is not allowed to raise her voice against her husband due to patriarchy embedded in the society. Even if she tries to, the taunts and insult would start coming in from her own household!
Role of Media and Bollywood
Most of the rape cases happen in rural areas by men who are frustrated to the core. When they watch TV or Bollywood movies they see women in an avatar which is exactly the opposite of what they see at their homes. They see a song like “baby ko bass pasand hia” in which a macho man is trying to woe a girl openly and the same girl is shown as rather hesitant in the face of this blatant harassment she is being targeted to. However, eventually that girl becomes his lover. In the real world, this harassment does not bode well, and the girl rightfully shows her resettlement towards the act. As a result of which, the ego of the man takes a hit, which he displays in a very aggressive manner which involves assault on the woman leading towards rape. These men deny they have “raped” a woman even though they accept they have indulged in a sexual activity un-consented to by the partner. Did you ever notice that in songs like “ chikni chameli, beeri jalali jigger se, muni badnaam” the men going crazy around half naked muse, belong to the illiterate masses of our society. And these are the majority of the men who are involved in sexual violence in our country.
Psychological factors leading towards rape
The psychology of the rapist has been tried to cover by a lot of renowned psychologists internationally. Sherry Hamby, editor of the journal psychology of violence lays special emphasis on the mentality of the perpetrator. The virtual impunity of the crime in the society is the first step in committing rape by a potential rapist as per recent studies. Antonia abbey, a social psychologist, says those who express remorse on their actions are more able to mend their ways as compared to those who blame the woman in some way. This is aptly true of the condition of Pakistan right now where the victim is blamed rather than the person committing the crime which leads to victim shamming.
Low Conviction rate
For any crime to be curbed in the society, it is imperative that the courts award conviction at a rather high rate. However the condition of conviction rate in Pakistan is not very promising when it comes to rape. According to various studies, the low conviction rates indicate a tolerance for the crime. Same goes for rape. As per a recent report 4 women are raped every day in Pakistan but in the last four years only 108 FIRs were registered against 369 cases. This figure is staggering to say the least. Men know they are going to get away with it easily. The biggest example is that of Mukhtara Mai case. The entire nation stood for her but what happened? Instead of the rapist going behind the bar, it was her who served years in jail. In Pakistan there’s a shocking 4% conviction rate of rape cases. Due to the tolerance in the society of this menace , men continue to rape women with impunity. However, recently, as a result of the civil society pressure, the country passed The Anti-Rape Laws Act 2017 speeding up the system along with rendering DNA tests admissible in these heinous crimes which often stand to trial on hearsay. Prior to the enactment of this law, the infamous hadood ordinance required four witnesses to be present to support the victim otherwise she was convicted under the charge of fornication.
Patriarchal society and its association with rape
Pakistan is predominantly a conservative society holding patriarchy dearly in all walks of life. A Man is still the powerful breadwinner and the Alfa at home no matter how much more capable his female counterpart is. Rape is considered a part of manhood and any sexual assault is a mere expression of masculinity. Men think that by raping a woman they are demonstrating their masculinity. A woman’s honor is still in between her legs and the man’s honor is implicitly bolstered by attacking it in one way or the other. The mothers keep telling their daughters how to dress up but sons are never taught to respect women regardless of their dressing. Rather cheap sexual slurs are taught to describe a woman who is a little societally deviant. What is shocking is that even women discuss other women in a derogatory tone. This baffles up the psychology of every man in the society.
How women cope with this peril
Pakistan Nari Tehreek is a national level NGO that works for the rights of women in Pakistan. Mukhtaran Mai is one of the members of the NGO and she highlighted this due to constant victim shamming .The sexualizing of her rape case in the court, she said, affected her psychologically as well. Amina bibi is a recent case where upon getting no justice from the courts and dealing with constant humiliation from the society for a crime that was done on her, she commited suicide in front of a police station. Recently another case in Multan involves a jirga ordering the rape of the rapist’s sister by the family of the victim who was raped earlier.
Ways to tackle this heinous act
Feudal lords and men from the lowest level of income group have one thing in common and that is lack of education. This is exactly why most of the cases are reported from rural areas. Our government needs to break this stereotype through education and by making the judicial system strong! We are living in a country where a woman is heading MNCs and in the same country they are used as pawns in the name of power amongst men at all levels. You and I can’t even began to imagine what a rape victim goes through. Just the thought of this contemptible act is giving me goose bumps.
Wake up nation! Wake up! I know for a fact that we can’t stop rape incidents right away, but what we can do is giving new life to the victims instead of telling them to lock themselves in rooms. Victims should not be made to feel bad about how they conducted themselves in that unfortunate time of their lives and be made to feel an accomplice in it by questioning her attire. Rather she has to be strengthened not just by the judicial system and the inquiry system but the society as a whole. Men should be taught to respect consent no matter the advances made by the woman. They should be taught to respect the sanctity of the word “no”. The families and the mothers have to take the first step as all depends on them. As Quaid e Azam said “no nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you”.