How many more daughters of Pakistan will be defiled before we wake up?
17,075 That’s how many women have been raped in our country over the past five years.
This means that on average, nine women were defiled in the land of the pure every day since 2008: a statistic that should make any sane human being hold their head and cry out in agony.
But this is not simply a number; it is a figure drowned in blood. The blood of mothers, daughters, sisters and wives – no relation has been spared in this march of misogynistic madness. Think about them, those women who suffered and survived. They were forced to bear the cross of their shame; they were shamed, not the animals who were the perpetrators. Having to go through the agony and social ostracism of filing a report, being subjected to unscrupulous and shameless scrutiny by a corrupt and inefficient law-enforcement mechanism that was incompetent to protect them in the first place and then placed on the victims the burden of recounting and proving their terrible ordeal.
But spare a thought too for the countless nameless, faceless victims, who prefer to keep their pain to themselves because they cannot bear to breathe a word of their shame to anyone else. Others still are cowed into silence by their own families. These are the true wretched of the earth.
Any civilized human being would be appalled, outraged and beside themselves with emotion. Just the thought that this unspeakable horror is happening at our very doorsteps should be enough to give any normal human being sleepless nights and nightmares. But reality hits us like a slap across the face: there is no willingness to discuss this rape epidemic on a national level.
Mainstream discourse is sanitized; in certain cases to protect the identity of the victim, in others to protect the honour of the savage perpetrators because they happened to be born in a powerful or influential household. Even the most basic form of justice available to the common man of this country, the panchayat, does not deal with matters effectively. This primitive law dictates an eye for an eye, and so do the acolytes of tribal justice follow this maxim blindly. They raped one of yours, so you rape one of theirs; they mounted one of yours in turns, so you can now take turns to mount theirs: it’s like they are talking about cattle and not living, breathing human beings.
Islam, which is usually the rallying cry in all matters where the faithful are tested, is consigned to the sidelines. Molvis use the stories of those wretched victims to further their own agendas. Jihadist sermons are littered with references to the mothers and daughters of Kashmir or Afghanistan or Bosnia or Palestine or even Chechnya. But once our impressionable young men are sent to their deaths in faraway lands, who will protect the honour of the loved ones they leave behind?
What it truly tragic is that these gruesome acts of savagery don’t even register on the collective radar of our sainted leaders and in the hallowed halls of power, there is not even the slightest willingness to act to prevent more horrors of this kind. In a state founded on the principles of Islam, the religion of peace, how is it that we have become so twisted that a crime as heinous as rape no longer moves us to tears?