by Mashal Riaz - Jul 03, 2017
Northern areas of Pakistan, famous for their beauty and calm, is where everyone heads to when they need to get away from their stressful lives. However, this girl from Islamabad’s experience at Khunjerab Pass will be forever haunted by this horrible harassment she faced.
Meenah Tariq was separated from her group where she was surrounded by some boys from Lahore who kept asking for her to take a picture with them and yelling phrases like, “le le tasweer ek, acha feel keray gi.” (Come take a picture with us, you will feel good.)
Despite being bullied in a public place, no one stepped forward to help her out. According to her, around 600+ people were around but no one volunteered to intervene. Eventually, she lost her cool and started yelling and that’s when they walked away.
On her way back to Hunza Valley, she located them again where they started sniggering and poking each other and whispering weird comments. That’s when she took out her camera and took a picture of these men and shared them online.
Sexual Harassment is becoming one of the most common issues our society is facing these days. This is not the first time such a case has occurred in Pakistan. We hear countless stories of unwanted glances and glares, unethical offers, uncomfortable physical contacts and other kinds of sexual innuendos every day and there is an even bigger number of such incidents that go unreported.
One would think that being fully covered from head to toe to avoid the chilly weather, a woman would not be a victim of harassment. However, that was not the case with Meenah Tariq. The fact that the weather at Khunjerab Pass is extremely cold and Meenah was dressed appropriately according to the place, proves that clothing has nothing to do with sexual harassment. This was a horrible account and we believe that no woman should ever have to experience this.
At this rate, there’s a high chance that these pictures will end up on these boys’ families’ newsfeeds but the repercussions for them might not be as such given the type of society we live in. These type of activities are often seen as “rite of passage” to masculinity. In order to combat this toxic practice, we have to start teaching our boys to respect all women just as much we teach our girls to protect themselves in all kinds of situations.
There are several notable organizations in Pakistan that provide protection to victims of sexual harassment who cannot raise their voice for one reason or another. A helpline catering to bullying and harassment issues online was also launched on December 1, 2016. Anyone facing online harassment can call in on 0800-39393 to talk in a “free, safe and confidential” environment. The service aims to provide legal advice, digital security support, psychological counseling and a referral system to victims.