The gang-rape case in Karachi's upmarket Defence area - where two women were driven off the road by men in another car and one of them was abducted and then raped - has already received plenty of media and blog attention, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
In particular, some parts of the media and the Sindh government adviser Sharmila Farooqui have been quite rightly castigated by many for their criminally cavalier attitude in commenting on the serious crime. It seems there is still a long way to go for some to understand that nothing, and we mean nothing, justifies rape: not the 'character' of a woman, not the clothes she wears, not her past, not her 'activities', not anything she says or does, not anything. A lit bit of sensitivity to the trauma of a rape survivor may be too much to ask from some people but what is shocking is that parts of the media - which had voluntarily stopped naming victims many years ago in a positive move - seem to have unlearnt years of gender sensitization and reverted to their callous previous ways.
The best commentary on the whole issue so far has been provided by Pakistan Media Watch. I would urge you all to read it. There is nothing more that I wish to add.
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In other news, I wanted to share the following recent story from Australia, which reader Umar Anjum shared with us. It raises some rather interesting questions about multiculturalism to say the least, but also about the knee-jerk way religion (or rather, a warped concept of religion) and cultural sensitivity have come to be used to justify the worst excesses.
I am thankful to @MyPplWannaJump for finding me an embeddable video. It is not of the highest quality however. If you wish to see a better quality version of the same clip, you can go here.
Regardless of the undoubted Islamophobic bigotry that sometimes accompanies the paranoia about the veil in the 'West', one must acknowledge the serious issues of security and recognizability that it gives rise to. In fact, this issue of the niqab (note, not the burqa) is hardly an issue limited only to the 'West.' This is increasingly an issue in Pakistan that impinges on security as well, let alone what it indicates about social dynamics over the last 30-odd years. I also know of a very well-respected university professor in Karachi who refuses to teach students wearing a face veil in his class. His contention is that he can neither tell, through visual clues, if the students are understanding what he is saying, nor can he be sure that the veiled students are in fact his students at all. I have to say, I completely sympathize with him.