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The Canadian model who filed a harassment case in Islamabad slams critics for victim-blaming

The Canadian model who filed a harassment case in Islamabad slams critics for victim-blaming

Assma Gulata refuses to brush the issues she faces in Pakistan under the rug just because she's a "foreigner"
Updated 17 Apr, 2019

Canadian model and humanitarian worker Assma Gulata registered a case on Tuesday against two suspects for alleged sexual harassment and infringement of her rights.

She shared that she was in Bahria Town Phase 7 when two men in a car began "harassing me, telling me to get into the car".

"When I told them to leave me alone, they started laughing. They blocked me from getting into my Uber and then followed my Uber from Bahria Town to Islamabad, trying to block the driver and even asking the driver for my drop-off location," she stated.

Because they were following her, she said, she had to change her drop-off location and hide in a nearby mall until she thought they had gone. "Then I went to my AirBnB," she said, adding that she had their vehicle details and a video of them as proof.

Assma, who's been living in Pakistan for the past five months has now released a video explaining what happened and says she was victim-blamed after the incident even though she was dressed 'modestly' in a long sleeved kurta and long pants. It's unfortunate that she has to even mention these details because we all know, sexual harassment or assault has nothing to do with what you are or aren't wearing.

And Gulata reiterates that: "It's not just about me or my kids, it's about all my sisters, all these stories I hear from women who were sexually harassed or abused by men and it goes unreported because then they blame the woman. 'Why were you travelling alone?' 'Why were you not with a man?' 'Why was your hair not covered?' I'm sorry but I've had friends and followers, who were performing Umrah and Hajj, fully covered, wearing a loose abaya and they still got sexually harassed. Clearly, it's the men we need to hold accountable."

In a refreshing move, Gulata also acknowledges her privilege, sharing she knows that her voice was heard because she's an expat while many local women are silenced.

"When I shared this on social media, some followers told me that if I really wanted to push a report with the police, I'd have to go to the police station, which was an hour away and I would have to bribe them. I'm not going to bribe anyone to do their job, I'm sorry, no. Rather than writing a tabloid with a girl's face for a little gossip column, why aren't we discussing the issues people are suffering from in Pakistan?" she said.

"And why do I care about this so much? I've married a Pakistani, I live here, it is my home. And if I'm going to be living here for a long time, my kids will be Pakistani and it will also be their home so I want the country to be safe for them as I want it to be safe for me and my sisters."

In the video, Gulata minces no words, also calling out the rampant government corruption in the country. You can watch the full clip here:

Comments

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dARAWAL Apr 17, 2019 02:53pm
The possibility that some officials may be creating these hurdles for you cannot be ruled out.
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Imtiaz Ali Khan Apr 17, 2019 03:00pm
Thank you Sister I'm a Pakistani and I wholeheartedly support you. We have to make a better world for all of us specially for our sisters, without their support and freedom as a nation we can never become industrialized. Even Honorable M. A. Jinnah our leader and founding father said that long time ago. Sorry for any difficulty you faced. Keep up the good work sister. Majority of Pakistanis as you can see agree with you. Thank you sister for what you are doing. Love and respect sister thank you.
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Dove Apr 17, 2019 03:24pm
Well done, more power to you
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concerned Apr 17, 2019 03:30pm
I am sorry for your experience.
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AAN Apr 17, 2019 03:46pm
That's why men harass so publicly because they know in the end the woman would be held accountable.
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Indian Apr 17, 2019 04:08pm
What a clarity of thoughts. A progressive & modern face. She deserves appreciation, applause and respect for her kindness, intelligence, integrity and loyalty. I liked her attitude and way of thinking.
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fairplay Apr 17, 2019 04:25pm
Brave lady, keep going, thank you. The men are likely from some political party bigwig.
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Patriot Apr 17, 2019 04:50pm
You deserve the support of every sane Pakistani. Harassment of women cannot be tolerated in any civilised society.
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Shams Baig Apr 17, 2019 05:22pm
i am Pakistani/Canadian- What she said make sense!
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Mani Apr 17, 2019 05:35pm
Well said.
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rizwan Apr 17, 2019 05:57pm
Emasculate the goons who do such things to women!The benefit to the population numbers will be an added gain!
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Ahsan Gul Apr 17, 2019 07:10pm
She is absolutely right. We in Pakistan must change our behavior and attitude.
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Sameer Apr 17, 2019 07:26pm
i thought she was a "volunteer" for human rights? when did she become a model?
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tuk Apr 17, 2019 07:35pm
Instead of harassing women, Pakistani men should focus on their education. Otherwise, increasing number of women in universities will eliminate them from workforce and outside spaces.
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Samie Apr 17, 2019 09:36pm
Those responsible should be punished. Unfortunately it is true. Men in our country need serious schooling on how to behave.
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Strategist Apr 17, 2019 09:38pm
She is absolutely right . My sister suffered abuse at Hajj - our society does not know how to behave around women and we have forgotten the basic rules of Islam such as Lowering our gaze. Without Stereotyping, issues like this are more common all over Punjab than anywhere else. Sort it out !
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BRR Apr 17, 2019 10:23pm
Blaming the victim is often resorted to by societies where they are impotent to punish the guilty and incapable of changing their own perspectives and habits.
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NewBorn Apr 17, 2019 11:20pm
First it was Alex Reynolds and now her.
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Hasan Apr 17, 2019 11:47pm
Men like these give other men in general a bad name. Men, hold these two accountable and make an example so we don't have to deal with them.
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Sohaib Apr 18, 2019 03:00am
she has NO IDEA what she is in for
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Shahid Apr 18, 2019 03:26am
Her concerns are valid. These things do happen specially in Lahore and Islamabad where spoiled kids of the burger class drive around and misbehave with girls. The administration needs to deal with them so that we can put a stop to it.
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AZAM AKBAR Apr 18, 2019 04:36am
Pakistan must be changed in harassment, corruption, crimes, etc. Not only the government but the people must learn behaviourr, attitude, etc., positively.
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illawarrior Apr 18, 2019 06:03am
@AAN But HOW is the woman accountable? Men are responsible for their own actions! They are creatures of free will. When they see a lone woman walking down the street with her hair flowing freely, they, and they alone, decide whether to harass her, or whether to be decent human beings, and let her be.
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Mian Shah hussain adv Apr 18, 2019 06:23am
Wish she could start this campaign in the West too.
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Musti Sheikh Apr 18, 2019 07:13am
We support your courageous efforts in totally dominated male society and what you are doing will encourage other sisters in future to voice their truthful grievances in public.
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Salman Jan Apr 18, 2019 08:28am
Agree. Those men put a bad image of PK and be brought to justice. Those men need tough punishment
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Adil Apr 18, 2019 10:23am
@Shams Baig She is Tunisian , raised in Canada.
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Azhar Apr 18, 2019 11:23am
How anyone dresses does not and I repeat DOES NOT give anyone the right to judge or harass. I do agree with the thinking that one should dress according to the situation and location because people will judge you from the way you dress, but that judgement should stay within and not expressed. Harassing a woman is unacceptable under any circumstances and the culprits should be punished in a manner that others are deterred.
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A shah Apr 18, 2019 12:10pm
Well done this woman. Pakistan is not safe for women
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BlueCollar (USA) Apr 18, 2019 12:15pm
Sexual harassment is like a pastime for some youngmen in Pakistan. Good to know this lady confronted them. They should be punished accordingly under the law of the country.
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Sabir Pakistani Apr 18, 2019 02:35pm
They messed with the wrong girl this time. You go girl.
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K Ahmad Apr 18, 2019 05:53pm
Well done these things have to be reported and those responsible have to be challenged and punished. We cannot simply ignore this behaviour
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wasim abbasi Apr 18, 2019 06:00pm
Thank you for bringing this harassment up. I appreciate your courage. Please stay strong and make Pakistan your home if wish to. There are good people out there..
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Ibrahim Apr 18, 2019 06:50pm
Its a shameful event. When the whole culture is covering, that means the people were barbaric than and even now. In open society, these does not happen as much as in closed society. We must change.
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Jag Apr 18, 2019 10:11pm
Fully support her if her claims are true.
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abc Apr 19, 2019 01:44am
Alex was the first one and now Assma is the second foreigner complaining about harassment, intimidation and bribery in Pakistan. This problem needs to be dealt with seriously if Pakistan wants to improve its image.Otherwise forget about promoting tourism in the country.
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HnMirza Apr 19, 2019 07:19pm
Try blaming the woman on the Day of Judgement for your actions and see if you can get away with it.
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Qaiser Apr 19, 2019 09:22pm
Disappointed to hear and read Miss Gulata's experience and disgusted with the comments made by our Desi no-good men. Shame on all of those who made such comments instead of feeling sorry for the lady who had to go such traumatising ordeal....
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