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EDITORIAL: The 400-strong mob, according to Punjab police, that breached a security fence to harass, attack, assault, toss around and practically strip half-naked a TikToker at Lahore's Minar-e-Pakistan park on Independence Day not just caused grievous injury to the poor victim but also insulted and humiliated the whole nation beyond remedy. It's an utter shame that, in the first place, we as a society have descended to levels that allow such things to happen in plain sight and in broad daylight and that too in a way that it seemed everybody was rushing to the area to take part in some sort of feverish celebration. And, in the second, the security apparatus of the capital of the most important province in the country not just allowed this episode to take place and go on for a pretty long and uncomfortable period of time, it was also found to be non-responsive even as the lady kept calling the emergency police help line while she was being so viciously attacked; at least till she was stripped of her belongings along with most of her clothes.

What is more, despite the usual hue and cry from the provincial administration, and even the customary angry tweets from Islamabad, there's still little or no progress to speak of on the ground. Claims from the chief minister's office as well as the police, that the culprits would be identified from the video footage that has since gone viral on social media and quickly brought to justice, also seem to have evaporated into thin air. So, to add to all the embarrassment and humiliation, we also have to deal with the spectacle of the police force in Lahore falling all over itself in trying to apprehend almost 400 people that attacked one girl in one of the most popular and frequently visited places in the city, if not the country, especially on August 14. And it is a very cruel irony that an incident as tragic as this has, led to the country becoming the butt of all jokes on social media platforms all across the world, not to mention the glare of the international press. For headlines everywhere have been shouting out loud once again how Pakistan seems to be a place where not just terrorists but also rapists, child rapists, and degenerates who prey on defenceless women thrive.

Incidentally, how some parts of civil society are responding to this travesty is of no less concern. It is fast turning out that it is just as important to do something about people who try to shift the blame, or at least part of the blame, on the victim herself as it is to punish the attackers themselves. Arguments that women would not be attacked like this if they weren't out like that, etc., are ridiculous and only serve to further entrench such abominable traits in society, especially when they also drag religion into the debate.

They also strengthen the argument that Pakistani society, largely, no longer gives women the respect and equality that the law, both man's and God's, grants them. Just the other day, our newspapers were full of a story of a woman in her 50s who was also tortured by many men, also stripped naked, then paraded and burnt with cigarettes - there are also reports of an attempted rape - because her son married a girl whose father disapproved and wanted to teach everybody a lesson. And, of course, the way some woman is raped in front of her children on the motorway, some girl is killed and beheaded by a jealous friend, some child is raped and murdered by a heartless predator, is now the stuff of routine.

And it is sad, regrettable and unfortunate that things are like this because at no point did the state feel that it was its duty to put its foot down and bring an end to this madness. All they had to do, and still have to do, really, is to make sure that the law is implemented. That's all. And since they don't do it they are just as responsible as the perpetrators of such ugly crimes for the embarrassment and humiliation that every Pakistani now feels.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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