In contemporary years, rape has been seen to be one of the greatest perils against women, children, and transgenders in Pakistan. The pertinent definition of rape is an unlawful sexual activity carried out without the consent of the other person. The term rape is also used interchangeably with sexual assault. Rape culture has been there in different societies for a very long time, but in recent years, it is aggravating at a rapid rate and now it is thought that being a member of a vulnerable social group in Pakistan, means not being safe.

There are different theories and perspectives that focus on the causes of rape culture. The first step to dismantling rape culture is gender inequality. Teaching children right from their childhood that “boys will be boys”, means they have the liberty to do anything. Another common stereotype is that even a woman’s “no” means “yes”; negating the concept of her consent. These biases that are not taken seriously during the early years of one’s life, permit rape culture to continue. Another factor that plays a major role in promoting rape culture, is pornographic content, where women are objectified and sexualized and men are depicted to be dominant. Some theorists argue that it is through sexual objectification that women become identified as the appropriate victims of sexual violence. Socialization of individuals through family, schooling, peer group, and media, also makes a lot of difference. Unfortunately, our media industry is playing its role in promoting rape culture by objectifying women and on-airing dramas that are culturally and socially obscene and indecent.

Proper legislation and implementation of the law against rapists can serve to alleviate rape incidents. In Pakistan, almost 2846 cases of sexual abuse were reported in 2019, according to the Sahil organization. This number includes only those cases that were reported, the cases that went unreported are another enigma. The reason behind unreported cases is that victim fears vengeance, hostility, victim-blaming, and ignominy in society. The main obstacle in reporting such cases is the poor police and judicial system.

Rape incidents, leave with themselves, the imprints of psychological, emotional, and physical ruination, on the victim. One of the most common reactions is severe depression. Survivors of rape may often have anxiety and self-blaming thoughts. Victims use self-blame as an avoidance-based coping mechanism, which makes them suffer even more. The victim also feels threatened and fears a number of things. All the impacts may be short-term or long-term, depending upon the victim’s coping tools.

Speaking out against the root causes of rape is the first step to stand against rape culture. The attitude of victim-blaming, that holds the victim responsible for the assault, needs to be discouraged. The notions of toxic and fragile masculinity should be changed and the center of the focus should be that irrespective of gender, we are all humans and have feelings and emotions. Another important step is to end perpetrators’ impunity and hold them accountable in the court of law. We need to talk against the dehumanization attitude adopted by media and criticize them. Also, there is a dire need to educate children about all this and inculcate in their minds, the values of respecting everyone. Step by step and with full and honest dedication, can this peril of rape be minimized.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News’ editorial stance.

  • Beenish Fatima is a writer and student of sociology at the University of Punjab, Lahore. She is interested in social issues prevailing in Pakistan.

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