Four women in Pakistan’s Faisalabad have been stripped on the road by the mob in accusation of stealing things from a store. The mob not only dragged them but bet them after tearing their cloths. This incident happened just after some days of mob killing a factory manager from Sri Lanka in Sialkot.
Though details of this alleged theft and its immediate aftermath are yet to be fully determined, the now viral videos of the women being degraded and filmed are absolutely horrific. An attempt is being made to paint the women, whom police say are trash collectors, as thieves who somehow brought this upon themselves — a trend that is sadly all too common in our society where women are not only abused but also told they themselves are the cause of the violence they are subjected to. Our history is littered with incidents where women not only are victims of inhuman crimes but are also blamed for the latter. Mukhtaran Mai, for example, who was gang-raped, stripped and paraded in her village, criticised Gen Musharraf’s derogatory suggestion that women got themselves raped to find a way out of the country. More recently, a woman gang-raped in front of her children was blamed by Lahore’s top police officer for venturing out too late at night. Are the men in our country, those who hold office and ordinary members of the public, incapable of condemning violence against women? Do they think passing crude remarks is acceptable? In Faisalabad, these women were accused of a crime, prompting a group of men to gather around them and mete out ‘justice’. They decided they would take the law into their own hands and punish them. Not only does this show an utter lack of respect for the rule of law, it also displays a toxic male mentality that objectifies women and dictates who is honourable and who is not. There is an air of lawlessness in the country that emboldens this criminal behaviour. These victims, poor scavengers, are at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and were not just publicly degraded. They will also continue to be traumatised by the fact that the entire country has seen videos of them being paraded. This barbarism must come to an end. The government’s condemnation and messaging around this episode ought to be stern and unequivocal, and serve as a warning that vigilantes will be punished