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Even Abaya cannot Stop them!

When Abaya cannot shield a Woman: Fault is in Men thinking not in Women Outlooks”

She looked very nervous. She rushed in to the class room, putting her bag in haste and sat on her seat looking a bit frightened. Her seat was beside me, I noticed her anxiousness but didn’t bombarded her with questions in response, giving her the freedom of keeping her personal matters or private happenings undercover if she was not willing to discuss; I just wanted her to calm down and let me know herself the reason of her fright.

She used to cover her college uniform with black long cloak, covering her head and face with black veil and hands with black or sometimes white gloves. I could hardly see her full eyes as she was prevailing her veil on her forehead and face so aggressively that even half area of her eye lids got disappeared in it.

The bell for the recess rang after completion of four lectures. She was still sitting on her seat, not ready to move out of the class. I sat with her silently waiting for her to speak up. Finally, she broke the silence and told me that one middle aged man was following her from last few days the moment she stepped down on her destined bus stop. She used to come to college and reach back home through public transportation. The man was chasing her all the way from bus stop to her home. He used to wait for her on bus stop in afternoon and then pursue her by walking behind her. He tricked to walk like normal strangers to other people, in fact, he was whispering to her by walking at a distance but close enough that she could hear him.

He whispered her full name and told her that he knew everything about her family and location of her college where she was studying. This is very Old technique of Pakistani Men to harass a woman by telling her that they may be a stranger to girl but still they know everything about the girl and her family.

She was worried about the families living in neighborhood. She was a pious girl and didn’t want to face any rumor with a man. It could get noticeable for the people living near her home when same stranger was coming behind her reaching her house gate in routine. She never replied to him but she took practical measures to give him a hint that answer of his intentions was NO. She walked speedily after stepping out of bus but he also walked rapidly with her footsteps; she changed her walking routes to her home but still in vain.

When she could not cope up with the fear inside her anymore, she asked her younger brother to pick her up from bus stop. When the man saw her brother walking with her to home, he finally left and disappeared for ever.

This is not one incident, there are many in which girls covering their selves with complete Islamic hijab faced obnoxious comments, hooting and shouts of men on streets even asking them to remove their veil to show off what they are hiding under their veil and abaya; offensive taunts towards women who especially cover their faces. These are the same hypocrites who deliver their religious and moral speeches in streets and their social circles that how women outlooks are responsible for every bad act of a man instead of accepting their own selves as responsible for harassing women on streets because of their own cruddy thinking.

When actions of men are viewed in reference with women then the scope of blame game is much higher. The simple common sense enlightens the bitter truth that every person is responsible for his her own actions and it’s none of anyone else business. When a man walking on street in just shorts is not likely to be harassed by women then women encountering bully and harassment on streets is also not the product of their dressing or their fashion. It is the upbringing and absence of moral teachings and guidance from family and educational institutes.

It’s not the woman outlook that needs to be changed but the mindset and values of men who are born out of the women. Although, there is no street harassment law in Pakistan but I have launched a campaign against street harassment to create encouragement in women to speak up against the bad and shameful incidents happened to them on streets instead of hiding them in fear. These “horrors on street” which are breaking the female pedestrians mentally and physically with anxiety, the hanging sword of getting blamed for the mischievous behavior of males should be STOPPED!

Both men and women should be groomed to employ their selves to stop harassment. Women can play a great role as a mother, elder sisters, teachers and mentors to establish ethical behavior in men; changing the way they think and see women outside home. Similarly, men share the equal responsibility of educating their own selves and their fellows about showing respect and giving freedom to pedestrians on streets accepting the fact that we all have a right to walk on safe streets prior to any biological differences.

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Gender-based Violence
South and Central Asia
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