Disclaimer*: The articles shared under 'Your Voice' section are sent to us by contributors and we neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of any facts stated below. Parhlo will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented on the website. Read our disclaimer.
This article was originally submitted by Tooba Khalid
I sit with a friend for coffee to catch up and the first thing she starts off is how she has to leave early because the city’s not safe anymore. I look at her with surprise and remind her of how we’ve spent 20 years of our life in this unsafe city, have had dozen cups of coffee and have traveled after Maghrib; so what changed now?
She starts off with a recent kidnapping case of somebody she knows and how it has scared her to the core; I listen and feel the terror in her voice as she lists all the restrictions and curfews imposed by her family upon her.
Furthermore, to my surprise, she seems not to be complaining this time and is okay with it.
On my way back, I take a deep look at the setting sun, the usual annoyed residents stuck in traffic at Shahrae-Faisal, complaining aunties and not so happy Riksha guys, the sound of Azaan, the smell of gutka in my taxi; everything that makes you fall in a love and hate relationship with the city felt unsafe and suffocated.
Nonetheless, I cover my head to sense a little safety and avoid attention from passersby. I cover my head properly to avoid attention, unnecessary glares from men of all sorts and kinds on the streets; who feel mandatory to make you awkward and unsafe but why do I have to? Am I an unusual being? Am I showing off skin? Is my dress too revealing? Am I asking for attention?
I’m doing none of the listed above then WHY?
Men in Pakistan have made it hard for women to be on the streets, take a nice walk in a park, travel after sunset, have access to public transport; have denied us the ability to just conduct basic household chores without being stared and gawked at.
The amount of harassment a woman has to go through in a public setting is unimaginable and it happens at the weirdest of places; from inappropriate stares by gully boys to traveling in a bus to get sabzi for lunch to unwanted touching while handing shopping bags by the shopkeeper, to name a few.
How do you expect a nation to prosper that doesn’t let its women feel safe in their own city? If the number of incidents your sister, daughter, female friends listed, you’d be surprised at the number. Sadly, we’ve normalized this culture, we believe that it happens and it will; so we choose to ignore, let go, choose alternatives but we shouldn’t have to.
We should be given liberty!
Nonetheless, we should be given liberty without being stared, gawked and groped in our country; so something as basic as getting groceries, traveling to far areas of the city, shopping at local bazaars is easier and cost-effective.
Moreover, we hardly come across any public washrooms and restrooms for women whereas it must be provided by the state as a basic necessity; but again, we fail to address and include women while constructing and claiming public spaces.
Public parks in Pakistan should serve as a place of peace for parents and provide a playing ground for the little ones. However, instead, they serve as a place of robbing and kidnapping of women and little ones causing these struggling parents to prioritize their child’s safety. Therefore, taking them to hyped and costly playlands that charge 100 rupees for a 5-minute ride.
It’s 100 rupees for a 5-minute ride. Spending quality time with your family in a park shouldn’t be a hurdle; difficult to afford for a family but again, our government fails to realize.
Reclaiming public spaces by women should be taken into serious consideration. Furthermore, access to public transport, toilets, bazaars, parking lots should be made safe and reliable; for the betterment of society.