Twitter is outraged and afraid after video of Islamabad man, woman being sexually assaulted goes viral
The hashtag #ArrestUsmanMirza has been trending since Tuesday night, when graphic videos of the stripping, sexual assault and torture of a woman and man began circulating on social media. Usman Mirza has since been arrested by the Islamabad police but social media isn't appeased.
The FIR, which was registered on Tuesday — presumably after the video began circulating on social media — says the assault took place within the Golra police station limits at an apartment building in sector E-11/2. The case was registered on the complaint of a sub-inspector.
"The video of the incident went viral on social media. In the video, five to six men can be seen keeping the victims in custody under gunpoint. The accused also stripped the couple naked while threatening them," the FIR said, adding that the suspects were also doing "vulgar acts".
The case was registered under Section 354-A (assaulting and stripping woman of her clothes), Section 506 (criminal intimidation), Section 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and Section 509 (sexual harassment) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Social media initially trending the #ArrestUsmanMirza hashtag to have Mirza, the main suspect, arrested. But after his arrest, the hashtag continued to be used to highlight the situation.
You blame women for being raped because of their clothes, reject bills that will punish domestic abusers and now men go around raping girls and make videos of it, wrote comedian and rapper Ali Gul Pir. "It's time for a change," he wrote, tagging Prime Minister Imran Khan. His sentiment was widely shared on social media as people have been bringing up the premier's recent comments linking rape and women's clothes. "If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact, it will have an impact on the men, unless they’re robots. I mean it’s common sense," he had said.
Among other messages on social media were frequent appeals for people to stop sharing the video as it showed the victims' faces.
However, many people noted that it takes a graphic video of violence for action to be taken in this country.
According to Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat, the video is a few months old. Action was taken by the police after the video began circulating on social media.
"We live in a country where ... abusers can get away with crimes because they are backed by a state that always tells them it was the woman’s fault," wrote one user, criticising the lack of government support for victims.
Another believed this was part of a greater issue where petty tyrants are able to commit crimes with impunity. "Change must begin now," they wrote.
Internet celebrity Nasir Khan Jan knew this is part of a never-ending cycle.
"Let me tell you what's going to happen after this incident," he wrote. "The police will release Usman Mirza, ministers will tweet one after the other, #ArrestUsmanMirza will trend for another two days on Twitter and then we'll forget until the next rape," he said. His commentary is spot on because, unfortunately, this is the same thing that happens every time an incident like this is reported in Pakistan.
One user demanded we make an example of Mirza, but how many examples do we need?
This user had something to say about how scary it is to be a woman and yet be blamed for crimes against you.
Another raised a harrowing point about the videos that haven't gone viral on social media. Though they're talking about Mirza in particular, this applies to thousands of cases across the country.
Many of the post on social media were from women who are terrified after hearing of and in some cases seeing this assault.
Where are women supposed to be safe? Not on the streets, not in schools or universities and not in our homes. This horrifying incident just reminds us that there are very if any spaces where women are safe. Until we take concrete action to ensure the safety of women in this country, incidents like this will remain Twitter trends that, as Nasir Khan Jan said, die out after a day or two.
We have one thing to ask of you — stop sharing the video but don't stop being outraged. Be angry at this incident and others like it and use your anger to fight for safer spaces for women in this country.