'Sexual terrorism, not harassment': Celebrities, politicians horrified at woman's assault near Minar-e-Pakistan
Public figures, including politicians and celebrities, have renewed their calls for the protection of women in Pakistan following the horrifying assault of a woman by over 300 men in Lahore on Independence Day.
The female TikToker was assaulted by a massive crowd at the city's Greater Iqbal Park — the video of which started circulating on social media on Tuesday, leading to an outpouring of rage.
Lahore police registered a case against hundreds of unidentified persons for assaulting and stealing from the woman and her companions. The FIR was registered at the Lorry Adda police station against 400 unidentified assailants under sections 354 A (assault or use of criminal force against woman and stripping her of her clothes), 382 (theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to commit the theft), 147 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Azhar Mashwani, Punjab chief minister's focal person for digital media, on Wednesday said that non-bailable clauses have now been added to the FIR and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has taken notice.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan personally spoke to the Punjab IG to arrest the men involved in the incident.
He also mentioned an incident where a statue of Ranjit Singh was damaged at the Lahore fort and called both of them "gross violations of laws and social norms". The government won’t spare a single person involved, he vowed.
The steps taken by the government, however, did little to calm members of the civil society, who highlighted not just the assault but also the need to protect the women of the country without any more delays.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the assault "speaks to a rot in our society". "The women of Pakistan feel insecure and it is all our responsibility to ensure safety and equal rights to all."
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and leader of the PML-N Shehbaz Sharif was "deeply disturbed" by the incident. "What is more worrying is the direction our society is headed in. The recent anti-women incidents are a reminder that malaise is deep-rooted."
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar said, "The incident of the violence against a woman in the Greater Iqbal Park is shameful and condemnable. Whoever is involved will not be able to escape justice. Women are the honour of our nation and they will be safeguarded, no matter what."
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari
Pakistan is not safe for women or children, wrote Aseefa Bhutto Zardari. "This is the disgusting shameful reality," she said, echoing the words of thousands of other people across Pakistan.
Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir pointed out that laws alone can't fix Pakistan's moral and social degeneration.
Actor Mahira Khan called for an example to be made of the 400 men who assaulted the woman.
"Ashamed of being a man today," tweeted singer Farhan Saeed, "ashamed that the men of this country keep doing these horrible acts every other day and ashamed that the law does not hang these predators so that this doesn't happen again."
Senator Afnanullah Khan
PML-N Senator Afnanullah Khan called it a new low for Pakistani society.
MNA Aliya Hamza
PTI MNA Aliya Hamza asked how many more women have to be condemned to this fate and promised to personally look into the case.
Filmmaker Nabeel Qureshi said this is the real face of our frustrated and desperate society. "How many more women will have to be harassed, abused or attacked before the government makes this issue a top priority?" he asked.
Author Fatima Bhutto said there shouldn't be any delay in the prosecution of the assaulters given that many filmed themselves and uploaded that footage online.
Filmmaker Mehreen Jabbar said we must not insult animals by comparing the Minar-e-Pakistan assaulters and Zahir Jaffer to them. "They are the worst depraved form of humanity."
Actor Adeel Husain called the incident a continued sign of our failures.
Musician Dino Ali said it is the responsibility of the state to arrest the perpetrators. "They cannot be allowed to get away with this."
Actor and TV show host Sanam Jung called it "extremely disappointing and scary at the same time that women are openly harassed in pubic".
"We only speak of religion when it comes to women’s clothes and what about these perverts? 400 people with a sick mindset! They all should be behind bars! Everyday a new story makes headlines. This won’t stop until they’re published," she wrote.
Actor Aagha Ali called it sexual terrorism, not harassment. "My heart goes out for that girl who went through this hideous experience and I want to tell her that we as a nation are sorry. We are extremely sorry behen [sister]," he wrote.
"I want to hear what the 'not all men' brigade has to say this time!" challenged actor Mawra Hocane. "[I] hope this incident is dreadful enough to open your eyes..at least this time there will be no judgement about the girl and how she could have avoided the situation!" she wrote.
Osman Khalid Butt
"Another moment we find ourselves collectively hanging our heads in shame," wrote actor Osman Khalid Butt on Twitter. He called for action, not just condemnation.
YouTuber Shahveer Jafry said he was ashamed, embarrassed and sorry.
"This whole drama of why was she there and what was she wearing is getting really old and no one is buying it anymore," wrote actor Mansha Pasha.
"Just say that we don't want to do anything to protect women and we want to keep stripping you of dignity because we can."
Actor Adnan Siddiqui said that since there is ample evidence, he hopes the culprits will be jailed. "Is this too much to ask for our women?" he asked.
Actor Imran Abbas apologised to Quaid-i-Azam and said he was "disgusted, petrified, ashamed and speechless".
As public ire grows, we hope that these celebrities and politicians use their power to make Pakistan a safer place for women. Tweeting is not enough. As members of our legislative assemblies and people who have the ability to influence public opinion, they have a responsibility to protect the people of Pakistan.
Condemnation is only the first step. We need concrete action to make sure that women in Pakistan are safe.