If you’ve been following social media updates lately, you’ll know that a conversation of dire importance has finally picked up in Pakistan. More and more people are coming forward with stories of sexual harassment.
Celebrities and influencers speaking about these matters encouraged others to refuse to stay silent.
Women from all walks of life are now naming and shaming perpetrators of sexual harassment as well.
Suffice to say, the conversation is very real, as is the outcry.
However, people who are not directly involved or affected by the incidents, or have little to no knowledge of the matter think it is their moral duty to state their “random thoughts” on the matter.
Because the conversation around sexual harassment is extremely important, here’s a simple guide on how not to be an asshole when a victim speaks up about their incident:
1. Don’t say shit like, “Are you sure it was harassment?” unless you’re the judge they have come to for relief in the case
Someone who has been harassed sure as hell knows what it was and how it made them feel. They certainly don’t need your validation in this regard. And no, harassment is not a misunderstanding. Victims know the difference.
2. If you’re not the said judge, details se aap ko kya matlab?
When someone gears up the courage to talk about their traumatic experience of being harassed, the last thing they want to do is to dive into the gruesome details of the horrific incident. So be respectful of their feelings and avoid asking questions like: “What exactly did they say?” “Where exactly did they touch you?” And what are you going to do with these details, anyway?
The sick mentality of those commenting on an issue as serious as sexual harassment as casually as they are just shows where the root of this problem exists – in our minds. We will continue to breed harassers for as long as we continue to desensitise this issue.
— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) April 20, 2018
3. Avoid saying shit like, “Pakka publicity stunt hai.”
Declaring yourself as a victim of sexual violence doesn’t earn you any publicity, especially in countries like Pakistan where victims have to withstand character assassination. No one wants to be popular as a victim of abuse or harassment. You don’t get brownie points for being harassed. Always remember this!
A woman breaks her silence about abuse, withstands character assassination & further abuse on social media, her story turns into memes & tone-deaf jokes that trivialize the issue, she fears ostracization – but suuuuure, she did it for the cheap publicity. https://t.co/eDeOpXYUox
— Osman Khalid Butt (@aClockworkObi) April 19, 2018
4. Don’t ask, “Why now?”
Most people get harassed and never tell anyone about it. Reporting the crime toh door ki baat hai. While there are numerous factors that prevent a victim from speaking out against the abuser, it is absolutely a matter of collecting yourself together and feeling safe enough to finally be able to share the truth. This being said, not all victims come out. Most of the victims take these hideous secrets to their grave.
She blamed Ali zafar harass her more than once.Question is, why she didn't respond at that time when she harassed by first time.Your long silence is questionable.
After She Harrassed,she is easily standing with him like "bahon my bahain dal k".why?#MeeshaShafi#MeToo#AliZafar pic.twitter.com/fojemTXuw5
5. Victim blaming mat karo yaar
No one is ever “asking for it.” Regardless of what she is wearing and which industry she works in, no one wants to be exploited that way. Even if you don’t believe the victim, do them a favor and leave them alone!
When a woman dresses like that especially in Pakistan, she loses all the rights to say I’m Harassed. & Proof that @AliZafarsays harassed you @itsmeeshashafi#AliZafar#MeeshaShafi#SexualHarassment pic.twitter.com/m5laQ4JQxZ
— Shaz Shah.. ?? (@iamshazshah) April 20, 2018
6. Slut shaming
“Aesi larkiyon ke saath yehi hota hai.”
“Khud bohat pakeeza hain.”
These are some of the most popular remarks we hear about women who share their account of harassment. Take the incident where the examiner harassed 80 students as an example. People had the nerve to say that the girls stayed silent to get their due share of marks. Matlab hadh hai.
How difficult is it to understand that absolutely no one deserves to be violated?
7. PLEASE stop saying, “Par proof kahan hai?”
Because everyone should record every living moment of their life, right? Not all harassment takes place on social media or over text messages, so there is LITERALLY no way you can prove it.
Do you think women come with built-in cameras and microphones to record every grope, grab, pinch, and sexual remark that's come our way, so we can produce evidence for every violation of our consent? You'd all be in trouble if that was the case, huh. Y I K E.
— Imaan Sheikh ? (@sheikhimaan) April 19, 2018
8. Shouldn’t even be on the list, but don’t crack jokes.
If someone shares something as serious as an incident of harassment with you and you respond with a joke, then there is something extremely wrong with you. No, it’s not witty. No, we can’t learn to take a joke. This situation calls for seriousness, not humor. If you have a humorous response to sexual harassment, keep it to yourself.
— Sta Niya! (@NotYourJanan) April 19, 2018
^This? Not funny.
9. Stop blatantly rejecting the allegations… or even accepting them. So basically, as a third party you should just shut up and let the person who is sharing their story say their version in a safe space
“It’s a lie.”
Some people simply live in denial. Just because you can’t believe it happened, doesn’t mean it never happened. Sometimes it is difficult to accept the truth, especially, when it is about someone you have idolized or known for a long time but this doesn’t mean it can’t be true.
— NZehra (@NZehra_) April 19, 2018
10. Don’t compare your situation with the victim’s or make it about yourself
When someone who is popular and has a reputation is accused of harassment, there are a number of people who come out and say, “Oh, but he never did it to me!” Well, then you are lucky! Just because person X did it to her and not you, doesn’t mean it’s the victim’s fault or that he/she is lying.
#AliZafar's 'Teefa In Trouble' co-star Maya Ali says she didn't experience any such vibe from the actor during the time they hung out together. Says he shared all his happy moments with his wife and son on FaceTime.
— Shahjahan Khurram (@91Shahji) April 19, 2018
11. Don’t justify harassment
There are no ifs and buts in harassment.
“Usne kaprey bhi toh waise pehne thay.”
“Woh high lag rahi thee”
“Aisay logon ke saath aisa hee hota hai.”
“Boys will be boys.”
NO. Don’t you normalize harassment by saying this! NOTHING can justify this heinous act.
“A man is a man and he’s bound to do such a thing. Farishta bhi lay aaoge wo bhi harass karega.”
The above is one among many preposterous counter arguments I heard aboit Meesha Shafi’s claim against Ali Zafar. The sadder part is that women make such statements.#MeToo
— Kaukab (@_shairani) April 19, 2018
12. Don’t vouch for the harasser
Just because the harasser has a wife and a beautiful daughter doesn’t mean he is incapable of exploiting someone else. I shouldn’t have to break this to you but there are men out there who rape and abuse their own wives (don’t even get me started on marital rape), daughters (yes, that happens) and sisters (yes, that too). Just because they are “nice people” or have happy families or are women rights activists, doesn’t mean they can’t harass someone.
Uff this I-am-a-father/son/husband-and-therefore-cannot-be-a-harrasser defense!!!! Seriously??? Have all the rapists, abusers and harassers we have here dropped from the sky? Alone and without being related to any women??? #alizafar #meeshashafi @itsmeeshashafi #metoo
— AshaBedar (@AshBedar) April 19, 2018
13. Stop with your own verdicts
No offense, but no one cares what you think about the whole ordeal unless you were directly involved or affected by the incident. You are not a judge and therefore have no right to pass a verdict on who is innocent and who’s “making things up.”
no surprise that the support to victims is overwhelmingly female, and victim-blaming overwhelmingly male.
— Faizan ?️? (@merabichrayaar) April 20, 2018
Next time when someone shares their experience of sexual harassment, try not being a jerk and show some empathy, please? Ab toh yeh guide bhi hai. And if we’re forgetting any points, let us know in the comments below. To all the people trying to speak up, we’re with you. Keep at it. Let’s change the game by establishing the #MeToo movement in Pakistan.
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