Hey Boys And Girls, Here's How NOT To Respond When Someone Accuses A Person Of Harassment

By Alveena Jadoon | 22 Apr, 2018

In light of the recent Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar harassment controversy, people have taken to social media to respond to the news. While there are those who’re quickly standing in support of Meesha for coming forward and being brave enough to speak, there are many others who are brutally shaming her for speaking up in a way that they feel is not according to their understanding of how a harassment victim should respond.


Whatever your views, this incident has started a very crucial discussion, much like the way brave Sharmeen Obaid’s incident did

meesha-shafi-ali-zafar-response-cover (1)
Source: dunyanews.tv


So now, we’re going to go over some of the responses to see why certain people respond in a certain manner when someone opens up about harassment and maybe even discuss how one should respond during such an incident

The aim is to understand the victim shaming mentality and also push people to look at the developments objectively:


1. “Isko khush hona chahiay ke harass kiya. Iski shakal toh dekho.”

Many people have brought up their personal opinion about Meesha’s appearance. Since she does not fulfil their beauty standards, they think that she should be thankful someone harassed her.

Via: Facebook

This statement shows no regard for the person who went through the experience. At the same time, it also reflects how men in particular, who have not had harassment experiences, do not think that it is a big deal. And they think that harassment is justified when it happens to someone they do not consider beautiful.

Before making such statements, one should realize how ignorant the statement is. Sexual harassment is not an experience people enjoy, nor should women or men be ok with it based on the beauty merits of the society.


2. “Yeh kapray aise pehnti hai. Yehi hona tha.”

Among many comments, many were also highlighting the fact that Meesha chooses to dress in a particular manner. For many that someone justifies a man’s lack of control over his sentiments and the need to violate a person for that.

Via: Facebook

This idea stems from a victim shaming mindset, which has internalized patriarchal values. These values expect a woman to be careful rather than expecting men to behave because “boys will be boys”. However this argument is incorrect because dressing “modestly” never saved anyone from the stares, the catcalling, or the violation of a person’s body. We have seen multiple examples of this in our own society. Zainab murder case is a case in point. She was a child, dressed properly; but that did not stop a man from doing the vile things that he did to her.


3. “Court ko decide karnay do.”

Many people have rightfully chosen not to take sides. Their argument is that they cannot take any sides unless the matter is taken to court and the court decides who stands correct.

This is a balanced approach for individuals not wanting to take sides and letting the law do its job. The reason why this approach is harmless is because these individuals are not slinging mud on anyone’s character or choice of lifestyle.


4. “Achay khasay banday ka career kharaab kar rahi hai.”

Several think that making such claims on a public platform will ruin his career and she should have avoided that. This is so because they believe “taali do haathon se bajti hai“.

Via: Facebook

The first thing to notice here is the victim shaming attitude saying that she must have been involved too. This is a clear assumption on part of the said person. If someone is sexually harassed or assaulted, is it always also the fault of the victim? Let’s use Zainab’s case again, would you say “taali do haathon se bajti hai” to her as well?

Also for people who think that this is more about his career than a person being violated, they need to understand the trauma people go through when they experience something like this. Either do not make an assumption about who is right or not in the first place, or do so with full facts, and without the victim shaming mentality.


5. “Abb kyun yaad aa raha hai isay yeh?”

“Why do these women come up with stories so late? Why don’t they report it right away?”

This is a very ignorant statement to begin with, especially if you haven’t had such an experience. It takes a lot of courage to open up about these experiences. Due to the victim shaming mentality of the society, one goes over the incident again and again to ensure that what you thought happened actually happened and you weren’t at all at fault.


6. “Uski family hai aur woh women rights ki baat karta hai.”

“A family man cannot do such a thing.”

Via: Facebook

Just because someone has a family does not mean that they cannot indulge in such a behaviour. Patari CEO Khalid Bajwa’s case is an example. If only having daughters and a wife stopped anyone, the world would have been a much better place.

People often give lip service to what they think is the trend. These are called social justice warriors, who take up causes for publicity, even though they don’t believe in them.


7. “Mature aurton ko koi harass nahi kar sakta.”

Many think that if a woman is mature, harassment cannot happen.

Via: Facebook

There is no such thing as mature women not being harassed. Harassment can happen to anyone, anywhere. People harassing you do not care whether or not you are mature. Yes, if this is a reference to women putting an end to it, that also varies from person to person. Mostly, the experience is so shocking that one remains fixated and cannot act.


8. “Inko paisay miltay hain aisi baaton ke.”

“These sluts and whores are being paid to create this drama.”

Via: Facebook

This is again a major assumption on part of the people and it partly stems from people’s ideas about women in the entertainment industry. While men somehow retain their honour and character despite the industry they work in, women who join this industry are automatically labelled as whores.

It is unfair to judge these situations based on stereotypes. And I can only wonder who would pay them to make these claims.


9. “Harassment ko samjhnay ki zaroorat hai.”

“The term harassment is very ambiguously used in the country.”

Via: Facebook

This is quite true. Due to lack of legislative work done to address this issue, many wrongfully use the term harassment. And it is not just limited to the law of the country, but people in general are also very confused. Due to the lack of research, they tend to use harassment to highlight instances that would otherwise not be categorized as harassment.


The point of going over these comments is to highlight the manner in which one can objectively view a situation, irrespective of the stereotypes of the society and its misogynistic viewpoints

Source: fastcompany.com

As a bystander, our opinion does not matter to the incident. Whether you side with Meesha or with Ali, the time during somebody’s accusation is to shut up and listen, allow the victim a safe space to speak their truth and let the accused answer them. If the accused did actually carry out the harassment, they need to be put to task for it but shaming a victim before anything has been proven to be false puts many other such victims in a position of vulnerability where they’ll never open up and put a stop to the toxic prevalence of harassment.


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