No, I am not looking for a fight here. And yes, I know that there are many gentlemen out there. But. Sadly, there is just not enough of them in my country.
Though things are considerably improved over the last few years, but it is still considerable unthinkable for girls/young women to venture out alone after dark. The poor thing will be stalked, leered at and eve-teased! Actually, the night factor does not make a difference. This will happen either way. And Burqa or no burqa, that still makes no difference. The girls is but a sexual object for a common Pakistani man.
Take this article by Kamran Shafi. [I do sometimes, feel that he complains a little too much but on this count I cannot but nod my head to his piece.] Consider:
In short, the Land of the Pure is as inhospitable a place as any in the world for women tourists, particularly farangi women tourists. Let me look at it through the eyes of my old friend Katrina, and new friend Jo, who visited us from New Zealand just two weeks ago. For myself, I can’t even begin to tell you what a difficult time I had taking the two around in the Islamic Republic.
There was no place we went: Peshawar or Lahore or Islamabad the Beautiful where the two ladies were not stared at incessantly. The starers were not only your ordinary man on the street but also policemen, and in one case army soldiers travelling in the back of an army truck on the GT Road behind which we got stuck. You name ‘em, and they stared; oh, how they stared.
In almost every case, and I have upset fellow columnist Angela Williams saying this once before, the leerer’s hand strayed you-know-where; there to stay until my companions and I were out of sight. Complimenting the straying hand was the look on the Yahoos’ faces, bordering on something between insolence and vulgarity and tawdriness, a small mocking smile playing on their lips.
Yelch! Why is it that the Pakistani men cannot think of women as anything other than as sexual objects?! And yes, by and large these are ‘Muslim’ men. And yes, they cover up their women in a chaaddar or a burqa, but is that any good?! Every step taken by her is rigorously monitored by filthy eyes. You go to a crowded place and there is every chance in the world that you will be leered at, felt up or pinched! Why?!
For the life of me I cannot understand, where this comes from! Before you say that it is education, I would preempt you and say NO! Ever seen a group of young college boys, standing around the corner of a street or outside a girls college, indulging in “poondi”?! I have. Suffered through the ignominy! And this is just one sophisticated way of putting it. So no, it has nothing to do with education or the lack of thereof!
It has to do with our values and mores. For an avowedly Islamic society, we are shockingly devoid of even the most basic morals! Take the example of a typical college boy. While he will bristle and fume if his sister is ever teased or harassed, but it would perfectly okay for him to do so with another girl! Take this hypocrisy to another level. While many “pious” men would consider it sinful for a Muslim woman to pose in a bikini but they can easily leer the night away looking at bikini wearing non-Muslim women. What on earth?!!
It is a perverted hayaless mindset that prevails. And it is nothing but a social product of forced piety and haya. In our over zealousness, we have never looked to impart the very basic norms about human dignity and respect to our children. Therein, lies the root of this problem. And that is also why I don’t see times changing. A sad fact of life in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.