Pakistan was in the limelight of international media headlines recently, and this time for the ghastly incident of the gang-rape of a woman in a moving train.
After motorway, now a woman was allegedly gang-raped in a train.
Sometimes, I feel the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not made for women. Then I see working women, non-working women walking on roads confidently, and I try to revisit my thoughts.
There are 20 laws pertaining to the protection of women in Pakistan, but they are only made to be mocked when we, the media, report the abuse of five-year-old girls to elderly women. Pakistan stood 151st on the Gender Gap Index, 2020, while a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey ranked Pakistan the sixth most dangerous country for women.
I was going through the comment section of the gang-rape story in a local English newspaper, and I was not surprised to read the comments blaming the woman for the incident. They questioned the character of the complainant, saying why she chose to travel alone and why she bought a ticket for the train which runs in night hours. Only a few bothered to shame the rapists and the train security arrangements.
Sure, the incident attracts the public attention to poor security arrangements in trains, but more than that the incident exposes our attitude towards women. The prevalent mentality of victim blaming emboldens the criminals to take women as a commodity, instead of a human being having equal rights.
The unlucky woman was gang-raped in the Multan-to-Karachi Bahauddin Zakariya Express by the three employees of a private company. The police are looking into the incident. The alleged rapists are at large.
The question arises where were the railway police when the incident occurred. The train’s operations have been outsourced to a private firm, which takes the responsibility for the security of the passengers and train. The government must take the private contractor to task. I hope the police will not take many more days to arrest the suspects. I also hope courts will not take months or years to reach the conclusion.
The only thing which has shown a constant change, and always experienced an upward trend, is the prices of grocery items. The media reports the fluctuating prices of kitchen items on a daily basis. I was going through the editorial of Dawn newspaper, published 50 years on this date – June 1, 1972 – and was hardly surprised to read the text. I am copying the lines here for my readers, and hope no shocking surprise awaits them too.
“The report that an annual plan for price stabilisation is under preparation reflects the Government’s anxiety over the existing unsatisfactory situation. Prices of consumer items, in both wholesale and retail markets, have shown an erratic trend after devaluation. The prices of atta, ghee, sugar, rice, jowar, and bajra, have, for example, registered a rise… . The Government has, however, maintained that devaluation does not just justify such price increases. Both the President and the Sind [sic] Governor have … warned of stern action against those responsible for speculative moves designed to push up prices. But … the Government knows that warnings only rarely affect the conduct of the market.
“…[A] great deal will depend on how far the Government succeeds in preventing inflationary pressures from getting exacerbated, in restoring industrial peace, and in ensuring that the incentives to increased agricultural production remain effectively in operation. It is also vital to see that luxury items and inessential imports are shut out, so that sufficient resources are thus made available for importing the goods and industrial raw materials that we badly need.”
So, prices have shown a change in numbers, but not in trends. This is the price we are paying for not developing resources.