My little nephew Nashit came to my room in the morning and shouted “Wake up wake up Moodi, Dadi is weeping. I jumped from my bed and went to see my mother who was in deep shock after reading the “Meerwala gang-rape incident”. She asked me to go out side and watch the sky whether it was red or not. I was getting late from office so I got busy. I caught the wagon and sat on one of available seat. There were many people belonging to different ideologies and groups sitting in the wagon. All were discussing the horrible incident of gang rape. An old man said it is fate of weaker sections of the village to suffer that kind of mental and physical torture and nothing is new. A milkman stressed that Kamees (weaker/inferior people in the villages) should live according to the wishes of their feudal lords and often has no right to protect their fundamental human rights. An old woman said it was earth-shaking indeed. A student showed his worries by saying that culprit should be killed at once. I was listening all the conversations and versions of all the participants in the wagon.
Two men with bread were also starting giving their so-called valuable suggestions. One of them assured all the passengers that his party (religious) would put an end to all these social inequalities and injustice in the society if it comes in the power in the coming elections. Two young girls were also traveling with us and it seemed that they were totally unconvinced with the assurance of that religious man. The conversion was getting hot and then conductor of the wagon intervened and requested all the passengers to keep quiet because we cannot change the fate of weaker and poorer populace of our country. I was very much agreed with the conductor but did not dare to revel it.
The wagon was going towards its destination. After some time a new passenger joined us. He once again started the hot topic of the day i.e. gang rape and criticized all the policies of government and philosophies of all the religious parties. Then started the hurricane of stupidity, exchanges of abuses, and sermons of Muslim and non-Muslim. The deriver stopped the wagon and tried to cool down all the passengers. At last all the passengers accepted the request of the driver and promised not to start the hot topic again. I left the wagon and walked towards my office. On the road I heard some strange voices, illusions of inhumane passions and laughter of dirtiness that raped lady had an “outstanding stamina”. What a shameful interpretation. What a great expression of seriousness. What a view of our proud youth. I was totally shocked.
I reached at my office and started my job. At lunch I closed my eyes and tried to visualize the horrible incident. I saw that she was touching their feet, crying, weeping and begging for mercy as four men were dragging her to the nearby farm hut to rape her on the orders of panchayat. She was requesting the five hundred men to help and reminding them that she was a Quraanic teacher. There was unstoppable flood of tears in her eyes and she was badly crying “help” “help” but no body so-called sons of soil, defenders of honour and champions of gallantry stood against the cruelty, brutality and inhumane practice of panchayat. The four nominated men were taking their turns to rape her and then made her walk naked between the crowds. The men were sniggling, mocking and laughing in celebration that they had taken their revenge for the sexual affair of her 11-year-old younger brother with a woman of their caste. It is hard to proceed on. What does one write? How do you label such a happening? Is act of a animal or man?. Is it their committed effort to save the holiness of so-called blue blood?
I thought I was in ancient era of “Romans or Greeks” where women of the enemies were usually raped without any mercy or fear just to demoralize the spirits of their enemies. I thought I was in the caravan of “Changaz Khan” who used to build the minaret with suckles of their enemies by putting naked women at the top just to teach a severe lesson. All the captured women were gang raped purposefully so that the enemies could not dare to rebel. I thought that I was in the era of “Ancient Hindustan” where women of the inferior casts were tortured, raped and burnt on regular basis just to maintain so-called golden, purified and sacred social fabric and social equality.
Mr. Omar Hayat Bhatti my colleague shouted “Wake up”. I thought Mohammad Bin Qasim had arrived in the village Meerwala in district Muzzafargarh in Southern Punjab and saved the helpless poor women Mukhtar Mai. I woke up and started watching here and there. Omar said some thing wrong, why your eyes are got red but I could not give answer all these questions. I was truly in deep shock to express the pain, public humiliation, torture and dishonouring of Qur’aanic teacher and her small brother who has been sodomised by several men and tortured for the sexual act with woman of a sort of higher caste. I fear that deep psychological scars that the episode has dug on their minds perhaps may stay as long as they live. In our beloved country women are being kidnapped by MNA’s, MPA’s and their relatives, women are being gang raped, they are being tortured and humiliated, people are using rape as a weapon to bring the ultimate shame to their opponents and saga of social debacle is going on and on without any check or resistance. The regions of southern Punjab, interior Sindh and Balochistan are notorious for gang rape, child abuse, and killing of innocent women for self made personal taboos, moral standards and so-called maintaining social equality. Are we ashamed of what we have done to that culture?
Women are living a miserable life in the Seraiki belt. The frequent cases of karo-kari and ‘honour’ killing, gang rape and other horrific crimes against women in Pakistan are negating the hectic efforts of Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf the President of Pakistan. Women are murdered brutally by fathers, brothers, husbands and other close relatives in a social ritual that the outsiders are beginning to understand as honour killings and weaker section of society suffered a lot. Its roots are too deep and manifestations too horrific to narrate here. The dominant castes in numbers behave in feudalistic manners with minority castes.
I like to watch programs of “National Geographic Channel” every day. But I never saw that any animal attempted the forced mating/gang rape with other female animals. Surely animals have some rules of interaction. The animal world too must function according to some ethic. Right of free choice is supposed to be the sign of a civilized society, which is vanishing day by day from the country. We are all responsible for this. The perpetual system of feudalism is responsible for such horrible incidents. Absence of checks and balances are one of the main reasons for deteriorating rights of women in the country. There were rapes of 22 women by 53 men last month in the country. The common practice of “Double Standards” is said to be main actors for such a gang rape. The worship of “Blue Blood”, status, caste, tribe, wealth and power has increased the chances of gang rapes, sale of girl child, child abuse, early age marriage, divorce, and hatred. Sexual crimes of this monstrous and other nature are truly the bane of a society in which the rich and the powerful are known to literally get away with murder.
The so-called religious parties of my beloved country should also share the guilt. Religion is blessing and last resort for disturbed humanity. It heals the wounds of depressions, dependencies, and sorrows. But majority of the religious parties used religion to black-mail ruling elite and common people alike. They all never stood against the cruel system of feudalism, poverty, and illiteracy. They never fought against the culprits of social crimes. They never started agitation for the rights of women in the society mere lip service, un-meaningful slogans, oratory, false commitments and fake promises have shattered the common belief of populace on holy religion. They all went to Islamabad to free the some one from “Cage” just to collect votes in the coming elections 2002 and did not visit at the home of raped woman what a master piece of double standard, what a shameful deed on the part of all the religious parties. Do they feel any guilt/shame?
It is the failure of so-called champions of human rights commission/organizations and NGOs, which always speak for the rights of women, conduct conferences and seminars just to collect funds from international donors. It is stigma to educated people of country who always give lip service and play with the sentiments of common people. Furthermore it is shame for the successive governments in the country that they have done practically nothing to change the prevalent social attitudes towards women and improve their status. Until this is done, shameful episodes such as at Meerwala will continue to recur. My colleague Mr. Tariq Rana said that it was a shocking incident in the 21st century and a blatant violation of human rights, as well as human dignity but what we did to restore the dignity of raped poor lady and abused 11 years old innocent young boy. Mr. Akram my colleague stressed that sexual assaults go unreported because of the social stigma and the impossibility of proving the charges in the country.
I sadly returned home and pondered what I can do to decrease the agonies, sorrows, or tough times of grieved family and especially the main victims i.e. the raped woman and her younger brother. I opened the “Window” of brain and entered some questions in it that are we Muslim? Are we true believer of Islam? Do we believe in the true spirits of Islam? Are we human beings? The feedback was heart breaking and shocking. Then I telephoned to my friends Usman Saeed Cheema, Farjad Ghani, Irfan and Mansoor Ahmed for discussion about the sad incident and they all agreed with the conclusion of computer. I also discussed with my other colleagues and they all pointed out that it was a shameful deed, sign of inhumanity, mental sickness, and the last not the least act of barbarism. I saw a controversial movie “The Train to Pakistan” long time ago in which women were, burnt, insulted and raped by the bad people from both sides but I could not feel the grievances and sorrows of those naked women. I have tried my level best to forget the tragic incident of recent gang rape but not yet succeeded.
At last I went on the roof of my home and investigated whether skies got red or storm is coming or civilized people of my city Lahore are agitating against the horrible, shameful and sad incident of gang rape but nothing had happened. It is no doubt black spot on our national character and stigma on our society. I am ashamed because I cannot do any thing constructive for Mukhtar Mai and her younger brother. The stigma is un-erasable, unbearable and often leads to suicide or murder. But Mukhtar Bibi keeps in yours mind that on this earth the beloved ones of prophets were tortured, insulted, burnt, slaughter and hanged. On this earth virtuous people were blamed for sex and other serious crimes. On this planet prophets were also allegedly accountable for their some conducts. So Mukhtar Mai you are not alone all the nation is with you in your hot days and you are as pure, respectable, virgin and complete as before. In these times of struggle and strife, and of heightened anger and reaction we need a credible state to operate as a fair arbitrator in society instead of rule of the evil justice of panchayat.
I still wonder when the full moon of love, harmony, peace and decency will be free from the circles of black skies. When people will take prides on pure moral standards than to salute personal taboos. When people will come out from their blind ally of cast, greed, tribe, status and arrogance and will start believe in brotherhood, sacrifice, universality, merit, decency and forgiveness. Let us hope and pray to God that may we see that desired era with our open eyes before going into dust.