In Pakistan, the senate has passed a bill providing protection to women from sexual harassment. From my personal experience in Pakistan, this is a much needed law. In no other country in the world, have I felt so many hostile, penetrating male eyes on me in streets that, in some cities, are often utterly devoid of women. It's no wonder. Men routinely sneer sexually soliciting comments in the same breath that they call you an infidel and a prostitute. A confusion between what they loathe and what they like is all mixed up in a fog of aggressive sexuality mixed with hatred and anger. Many Afghan women I know who grew up in refugee camps in Pakistan told me stories of being regularly groped on buses or grabbed in the bazaar. It’s a place where the deepening of conservative Islam has not meant that women are protected from becoming sex objects, but rather, they have become even more vulnerable to exploitation.
Yet the story of how the anti-sexual harassment law made its way through the legislative process in Pakistan is simultaneously telling and sad, and provides further...More >>