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EditorialWomen safety needs to be prioritized

Women safety needs to be prioritized

The disturbing incident that occurred in Karachi where a man exposed himself and then tried to grope a woman has stirred a debate on social media about women safety.

The incident took place in Karachi’s Gulistan-i-Jauhar neighbourhood on the morning on July 3 where a motorcyclist is seen stopping his bike near a house, removing his shorts and then running after a woman, half naked, in an attempt to grab her. However, the woman hits back and the man returns to his bike, wears his shorts and drives away.

The whole incident is captured in the CCTV camera installed at a residence in front of which the man stopped. The house owner uploaded the video on social media which has garnered strong reaction. Within hours, the video was retweeted and viewed thousands of times.

So much so, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon stated that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had taken serious notice of the disturbing incident and directed the provincial inspector general of police and Karachi additional inspector general of police to “immediately arrest the culprit and strictly deal with him according to law”.

The Gulistan-i-Jauhar police have also taken notice and have started making efforts to identify the culprit and arrest him.

According to the police, so far no one has approached them to get a first information report registered, however, they visited the area and met the person who had uploaded the video on social media. Police also met the residents of the area as well as security guards to glean information about the incident.

An officer said that they were trying to trace the woman in order to identify the suspect.

The incident is both despicable and alarming. It was a lucky escape for the woman, but it must have surely left her traumatized.

But what one needs to seriously think is whether our women are prepared to handle such harassment. Do they know what to do in such a situation?

There is no doubt that our society has been gradually degrading. The audacity with which women are being attacked and assaulted is worrisome.

According to a report compiled with the help of medico-legal officers posted at Karachi’s three major hospitals — the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital — 513 women were raped in the metropolis last year.

And, these are official figures; imagine how many go unreported.

Who can forget the rape incident that took place in Islamabad’s F-9 Park and another case where a security guard raped a foreign national early this year.

Under such circumstances, what can a woman do to protect herself? Some are suggesting Apps on mobile phones that can alert the law enforcement personnel. Others think that women should carry pepper sprays, blades or anything that can help defend themselves from sexual predators.

There is hardly a house whose women do not go out for work, study or household chores. Therefore, their safety becomes the society’s collective responsibility.

There is a need to give input to the law enforcers to improve vigilance and equip our women to defend themselves against attack of any kind. Self-defence training should be imparted.

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