I come from a society that persistently reminds women and young girls to be in a constant fear of being harassed, in a fear of being objectified by other individuals of the society. My surrounding tells women and girls to be afraid of being inappropriately grabbed or touched by some random person; it tells women to be in a fear of being catcalled, stalked and reminds us to remember those lustful eyes gazing at us every time we think of leaving the house or walking by the street.
Quetta city has been famous for its natural beauty for over decades, but the brutal truth of this city has been hidden. The ugly face of this place has not been discussed as much as it should have been before.
Harassment and catcalling are so common in the city that sometimes I feel it has become the ‘new normal’. I don’t think there is any girl or woman who hasn’t undergone harassment and experienced this ugly side of the city.
One will hear creepy catcallings by random people in bazaar, in streets and almost everywhere. ‘MashAllah’, ‘SubhanAllah’, ‘Baji number tou de dou’ and there are so many other creepy phrases one gets to hear every day.
Women who speak up against this and break the chain of silence are often termed as ‘the bad one’ or sometimes threatened to be killed, raped and attacked too.
Many think it is in the dressing of a woman to ‘invite’ people or to ‘give signal’ to people or it is clothes that indirectly show consent, but I’ve seen women dressed up in burkha being harassed as much as woman who are bare head. It is never in the dressing; it never was. It is in the mentality. The idea of objectifying women in our society has become a norm, it is and it has been going on for centuries.
Be that Quetta or any other city in this country, women everywhere deserve a life where they can fully enjoy their being without having the fear of getting harassed or stalked.
We, maybe, cannot reach out to all the citizens or commoners all together, but we can spread awareness regarding it. We can ask women to speak up about and against it. We can encourage women and girls to share their stories. We can definitely raise our voice when we see this happening in our surroundings.
Only because harassment is common these days, should not be taken as a ‘new normal’. The government also plays a role in providing safety to its citizens. There should be emergency call centres or other alternatives for citizens to reach out to when in need.