She was skimming through different apps on her phone that night. She suddenly noticed that a lady accused someone on social media of sexually harassing her and she immediately supported the lady fully with all her conviction. All hashtags came out and even though the man accused (apparently) wanted his side of the story to be heard and/ or demanded the lady to at least prove her allegations, she wasn’t willing to let go of her (already formed) judgement about who’s guilty & who’s the victim. ‘These things can never be proved & therefore the lady is right’, she tweeted.
The next morning on breakfast, her parents broke the news to her that her father’s job was being terminated on the allegations of sexual harassment from a female colleague of his at work.
‘How can they terminate my father like this without any proof or evidence?’ was the first sentence that came out of her mouth. A thought hit her like a lightening bolt. Last night’s tweets were flashing in front of her eyes. She wanted to stick to her stance and started giving counter arguments to herself mentally. ‘But I know my father. He’s not that kinda person’, she said to herself. ‘Well, that guy must also be someone’s father, brother, husband or son. His loved ones would also trust that he’s innocent just like I trust my father’, the counter thought was stronger. ‘But women need to have the independence to speak their minds out and raise their voice’ she made a strong point this time to herself. But as soon as she looked at her distressed father, she thought, ‘But no woman or man for that case should be allowed to make accusations against someone publicly without proof or evidence merely in the name of empowerment.’ She was still confused though as she still wanted to not let go of the stance she had taken in defense of that lady last night on Twitter. ‘Why would a woman come out with such a huge allegation? I mean, what does a woman have to gain from this? She puts everything at risk with this, right?’ she asks herself and immediately realises something. ‘She can be professionally jealous of my father at work. My father’s a fairly handsome man, it could be anything’ she thought. Both cases had now started to mix in her mind and the more she thought the more confused she got.
‘But according to general public, 90% of the times, the woman is right’ she told herself. ‘My dad’s case though HAS to be from the other 10%’, she tried putting her feet in two boats at the same time through this thought.
Mud slinging is different from having the courage and power to speak up and fight against oppression. #MeToo might be the need of the hour in the West, but frankly speaking, we live in a society where even if a woman’s dupatta gets stuck in the seat of the bus and she mistakes it for the man sitting behind her in the male compartment pulling it to grab her attention or to harass her, the whole male compartment is going to beat the crap out of the accused without even giving him a chance to speak ONLY because it’s about a woman’s honour.
Sexual harassment in Pakistan has generally been discussed in recent times from only one perspective: a man sexually harassing a woman. In reality, and as we all know already, men are also subjected to sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of other men and women as well. They also feel equally shy to admit when an incident has happened with them where they were harassed, molested or abused by an aunt, uncle, neighbour, friend, teacher, maid, boss, van driver or guard when they were too young or even after they had reached maturity.
So, coming out with experiences related to harassment isn’t only difficult for women, it requires equal (if not more) amount of courage from men. While coming out with such experiences and details of such incidents is considered to be a sign of strength for women, the same is considered to be a sign of weakness or lack of masculinity for men. Where there’s no denying of the fact that generally, women are victims of harassment on more occasions than men and in a lot of cases women do not find the courage or support to express what had happened to them, male victims also find it extremely difficult to put their manliness at risk while coming out with their experiences. Therefore, even though the overall ratio of incidents of sexual harassment (of men to women) would still not be balanced by any means, the percentage of cases NOT REPORTED by male victims would still be pretty much on a higher side.
Therefore, #MeToo, for me, isn’t just confined to a particular gender or a limited set of cases. It goes beyond them.
Keeping gazes down for men and observing the required parda for women as instructed by ALLAH (SWT) is the only way for societies to get rid of this otherwise incurable malady.
Showing as much skin as you like is not empowerment and treating every woman on the road like she’s only there to quench the thirst of your eyes and nafs is not a privilege.
Islam teaches men to keep their eyes off ‘naa-mehram’ women let alone touching or groping them. The only problem is that Islam instructs men to do it regardless of a naa-mehram woman’s permission to touch or watch her even if she invites you to it or ‘doesn’t mind it’ justifying it through phrases like ‘Mera Jism, Meri Marzi’.
So, with all due respect, the argument of ‘Even if I wear nothing, nobody has the right to stare at me‘ is as invalid as ‘Do not step out of your homes if you don’t wanna get leered at.‘ A balance needs to be there from both genders and a distance needs to be kept from both sides.
You know where the line is between a friendly touch and an unwanted grope? To be brutally honest, there is no line and even if there was, that line is drawn even before the ‘friendly’ touch.
Stay in your limits. Give respect to others. Maintain distance from those whom ALLAH (SWT) has instructed you to maintain distance from and always know that you have the right to raise your voice ‘responsibly’.
– Hammad A. Mateen