Pakistani women decided to fight the thing that has been making their their daily commutes miserable. No, it’s not pollution. In Karachi, the real problem is what they call the “staring syndrome.”
In The Express Tribune, a Pakistani newspaper, a young woman described her five-minute commute from work as the most stressful part of her day:
Whether I am wearing jeans with a shirt or am covered in a burqa, there are three points in that five-minute walk where I feel people eyeing me with extreme interest. The first is an under construction building, where poor and deprived labourers clearly get bored with their work all day long. The second is a showroom and its prolific guards who like to watch girls instead of thieves and intruders; the third is our area’s cobbler who I am sure has some serious vision problems because once his eyes get fixed at a point, they simply cannot deviate from it. And this is not it. Occasionally, an old toothless man or young, pre-pubescent boy walks by passing lewd comments.
She also writes that Pakistani women are used to atrocious staring, but that doesn’t mean they like it.
In fact, they dislike it so much an organization called Gawaahi, Media for Awareness and Advocacy organization, put together a video campaign titled “Stop Street Harassment,” to draw attention to the problem and to encourage women to stand to up “starers.”
In the video, one of the thing women say is that “staring makes them feel they only exist for a man’s pleasure."
What’s perhaps most interesting here is how some people in Pakistan have reacted to the anti-staring campaign.
Here is a sample of some of the comments in the above article:
- “Humanity evolved only for sex. And this is it, ladies and gentlemen…. At least let the innocent staring prevail since now these men cant rape…”
- “Islam gave solution for all gender problems 1400 years ago…women should not go out unless they have their brothers, husbands or fathers with them…”
- “My eyes are My property. What or who I choose to stare or look at is my right”
- “Gazing at women is against Quran and sunnah and the men who gaze at women should be prepared for a terrible punishment in the hereafter when their eyes will say that this man used us in an improper way and when burning iron rods are thrust into the eyes of the Men who gaze women with desire”
And then there's this one by a brave commenter, Sameer Qadir, who suggests that pornography is the root of all evil and anyone who watches it — himself included — should face a stiff sentence.
“One of the biggest problem our society faces is the menace of a dirty mindset most of the men, like myself have. We go on the internet, freely and unabated, watch pornography and then visualize women around us as being the same."
Now I am confused.
Is it evolution or is it pornography that we are blaming for the staring syndrome?
Maybe we should just ban them both, just to be safe.