Harassment is considered a taboo in Pakistan. No one talks about it, no one tries to educate their children about it, and no one does anything to prevent it in our society. Not talking about it is encouraging the culprits not to stop and continue the heinous crime. In Pakistan, there are several laws which protects the victims from the culprits once any such incident has occurred. However, most people are unaware of any such laws and also not comfortable to take any legal steps. In 2016, nearly 8,897 women and children reported about harassment by using the Madadgaar helpline. Among the reported cases 56% were women, 16% were boys, 15% were girls, and 13% were men. The percentage shows that all genre of people have been affected by the crime.
In this case, when no one was able to take a stand and speak up about the issue, a social activist from Pakistan, Muhammad Usman Awan, decided to break the stereotype and started speaking against this taboo. Usman is working for the promotion of cultural, moral, and religious values of Pakistan. He launched his first anti-harassment campaign called “Stop Harassment Now” to spread awareness against harassment and empower women. Usman believes that through empowerment women can take a stand for themselves and fight the culprits. During the first year of the campaign, social media presence was established, and a community of 11000 girls and working women was established. They spread awareness among thousands of women and solved more than 50 cases without any legal prosecution. The victims who shared their stories for the legal prosecution requested Usman to keep their identity hidden. Most cases were solved by Usman himself without letting the parents of the victim know about the case, this too was done on the request of the victim themselves.
Solving a case of sexual harassment is not possible without the cooperation of the victim. For this, it was necessary to empower them so that they can take a stand for themselves. Most women who were a victim of harassment were not aware of what harassment is and how to respond when any such incident occurs. Harassment is not something which occurs all of a sudden. It takes time to grow like weeks or months. It can start with a simple text message or a subtle body gesture. If someone knows how to respond to such situations they can take over the situation from the beginning. Saying a ‘No’ is also enough at times to protect one’s self from the beginning. Spreading awareness through content, sessions, and preparing women to become a fighter instead of the victim is essential.Source: RFE/RL
People In Pakistan needs to join hands and start working against this stereotype from the beginning. According to Usman Awan: More than 90% of the cases, the women who became a victim of harassment was because they did not have anyone from their family or friends to support them. Parents need to realize that this is a social issue and they need to stand by their children in order to protect them from being a victim. It is never the fault of the victim that someone targeted them with wrong intentions. With proper communication, empowerment, and support system the chance of harassment can be reduced in Pakistan. Government and lawmaking bodies also need to work to establish laws for women through which they can be ensured safety. There should be a transparent implementation of those laws and processes so that people can have faith in them. It is essential that we all stand beside the victims and fight with them to get them justice. Sexual harassment should not be a taboo anymore. The less we talk about it, the more there are chances that we create more victims around us.