Inspired by Me Too'

Against this backdrop, one can and should salute the women who have participated in the Me too campaign.

The “Me too” campaign has seen millions of women from around the world coming forward with testimonies of how they have suffered rape, sexual assault and harassment, abuse and many others forms of torment at the hands of men to raise awareness of such crimes. The campaign was initiated in the wake of the allegations of rape and harassment against Hollywood supremo Harvey Weinstein who reportedly got away with predatory and criminal conduct for years before being called out. He will face prosecution in all likelihood now. I feel no shame in admitting that no amount of empathy will allow me, a male, to ever experience what a woman goes through in everyday life at the hands of a man, at home, in the streets, in the workplace. In short, in every inch of the space she exists in. For far too long, men have either been in denial or ignorant of the scale of the problem.

There will be many men who will shake their heads and rubbish what I am saying here but it is, indeed, time that men joined the women in acknowledging and raising their voices against such nasty excesses against half of humankind. For far too long, men have either been in denial or, despite (utterly unfounded) claims of intellectual superiority, ignorant of the scale of the problem. All a man needs to do is ask any woman around him. Yes, any woman who has the courage to speak will have a shameful tale to narrate. Of course, this isn’t to say every single male falls in that nasty category and, therefore, some among us may not be able to relate to the issue. But I also believe that many among us who appear pious with holier-than-thou attitudes know fully well that our ignorance is feigned.

We will know because, at one point or the other, we have done something ourselves or witnessed some other man doing something that violated a woman’s right to equality, safety, dignity, privacy and her space. Before someone living in Wonderland tries to tell me that the issue is mostly confined to the “Western” society and attributes it to the West’s “lifestyle” and proclaims that Pakistan is so steeped in piety that it is immune to such evil, think again. All you need for gauging the scale of what women are subjected to in our very own faith-enriched society is to talk to women in your own family.

No man will ever understand what it feels like to be the subject of a nasty, sexist remark, to be touched by a lecherous stranger or groped or pinched. All the horrors that I am talking of may not even fall in the category of rape or assault. That also happens and to far more women than we are willing to ackno-wledge or accept. We are not even talking of marital rape, for, that in many of our societies is not even considered a crime by many among us. Against this backdrop, one can and should salute the women who have participated in the “Me too” campaign.

To me, they are trailblazers who have furthered the cause of women in several immeasurable ways, the foremost being, that by coming forward, they have shrugged off any fears of being stigmatised. They are the defiant survivors of sexual crimes and if there is any shame all of it must belong to the perpetrator. It is by no means an easy battle. Dawn’s website has published personal accounts of several women journalists who have suffered from discrimination and assault, with the workplace failing in its duty of care, of providing a secure environment to them. As a former editor, I can only hang my head in shame at how we have failed some of the most brilliant journalists. But, hanging one’s head in shame isn’t enough. There is a need to ensure with concrete measures that this never happens again. If media houses are unsafe places for their women employees to work in, they lose all right to show the mirror to society, to preach to the world; to say what’s right and what’s not.

By arrangement with the Dawn

( Source : Columnist )
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