Activists join hands in Karachi to denounce violence against women

Protesters outside the press club hold up signs condemning violence against women on Friday.—White Star
Protesters outside the press club hold up signs condemning violence against women on Friday.—White Star

KARACHI: ‘Stop violence against women!’ was the main demand on everyone’s lips at a protest demonstration organised by the Joint Action Committee for Human Rights outside the Karachi Press Club on Friday.

A large number of protesters were there to raise their voice against the brutal assault of a young female TikTok star at the Greater Iqbal Park in Lahore, where the Minar-i-Pakistan is located, on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day.

Yasir Husain, a young environmental activist, said that what happened with the TikToker is not to be tolerated. “Our roads, our parks, our homes should be safe for all women, children, transgenders and men. But here we see people breaking all kinds of laws for fun. Our society is not to tolerate this kind of behaviour,” he said.

Habibuddin Junaidi, president of Peoples Labour Bureau, said that it was an act of barbarianism and extremist behaviour. “I could only see lack of education here. And the education I am talking about should begin from home because it is the kind of education that changes mindsets,” he said.

Nuzhat Shirin, chairperson of the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, also said that the incident reflected on the worrisome mindset of our society that needed to be dealt with under utmost urgency.

Protesters demand justice for the young female TikTok star who was brutally assaulted in Lahore

“The pre-existing fear that women and transgender persons feel within the realms of public spaces has increased to an alarming extent. The fact that around 400 men got away with leaving a woman traumatised for the rest of her life, shows how the cycle of gender-based violence has been enabled by the system of the patriarchal mindset.

 

Security needed at public places

“There should be sufficient security deployed at all public spaces to ensure such tragic incidents do not take place and helplines should be made functional for emergencies like the one that the nation recently witnessed,” she said.

Poet Fatima Hassan said that there is a need to make women strong in course books. “Women are always shown as weak and vulnerable in schoolbooks, which must change. I also want to see more women in our police force, Rangers and Army. They should be there protecting our parks, they should be there on our highways, too,” she said.

Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation spoke about the feudal mindset. “Our prime minster says that women should dress decently as men are not robots. But here in our country, women are not even safe in their graves. We see Taliban powers working here as well,” he said.

Zehra Khan of the Home-Based Women Workers Federation said that the state needs to change the narrative. “Women here [are] looked at and treated as footwear. She is not respected, she is seen as a thing of entertainment. And this is the thinking of our society. We won’t rest till women here get equal respect. They deserve respect, and they should get the respect that they deserve,” she said.

Mahnaz Rahman, resident director of the Aurat Foundation Pakistan, said that this fresh incident occurred when people here were still in shock over Noor Mukadam’s murder. “What could be worse? Someone tell me, are women a meat shop and are men hungry dogs,” she asked angrily.

‘Women should be treated equal’

Human rights activist Zahid Farooq of the Urban Resource Centre said that women should be treated equal as men. “The gender difference should not lower the woman’s status in any way. Her gender should not be the reason for discrimination,” he said.

Qazi Khizr, vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that all this violence against women needs to stop. “And we can only make it stop through punishment. The punishments should be so severe that the persons getting them are made examples for others to not dare disrespect a woman,” he said.

The protesters belonged to a number of organisations including the Aurat Foundation, Aurat March, Democratic Students Federation, Democratic Youth Front, HRCP, Every Woman Treaty, Hum Aurtein, HANDS, HBWWF, Inkar Karo, Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights, Karachi Citizen’s Forum, Legislative Watch Group, NOW Communities, NTUF, Pakistan Women’s Media Network, PILER, Peace and Development Organisation, Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace, Pakistan Qaumi Mahaz-i-Azaadi, Pakistani Women’s Media Network, Graduates Forum, Siasi Aurat Tehreek, Sindhu Vaas Foundation, Takhleeq Foundation, Tehrik-i-Niswan, Uks Research Centre, Women’s Action Forum, War Against Rape, WFFP and Women Democratic Front.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2021

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