Sexual violence, a crime against reason and conscience
by, Naseer Ahmed
Pakistan is among those countries where 70% women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime by their intimate partners and 93% women experience some form of sexual violence in public places in their lifetime.
A news report
How could I put it? For example when you listen a news story about sexual violence, you end up feeling like visiting a den of demons or you feel like that all kind of evil deeds are bunched together in a demon. At times a single case of sexual violence becomes a mirror of a society. This widespread sexual violence mentioned above shows it quite clearly that we as people are training so many demons to create a hell for women and men in our country.
The first reason I think is that a rapist or a sexually violent person tries to have what is not his right without consent.
And trying to have what is not your right is a violation of reason and conscience. This is also a widespread problem and you see in every facet of life in our country like politics, economy, law and ethics.
Had they included sexual violence against men in their report, I think, those numbers would also be quite big. It comes from viewing abuse of vulnerability as a normal thing and all humans are vulnerable at some stage of their life. It is a bit like all things moving in the same direction at the same speed with a few highly lucky exceptions.
The second reason of sexual violence is this belief that inequality is destiny. Like many other social systems our social system glorifies superiority of one kind of people on other kind of people.
Besides, this so called superiority is highly approved when it is expressed by robbing, insulting, hurting and humiliating these so called inferior people. Well, inequality is not destiny and whenever women and other marginalized people access opportunities, they change this destiny.
In addition, there is a consensus about human equality signed by most humanity and that consensus is based upon reason and conscience.
Therefore, viewing somebody as your inferior is not only against reason and conscience but against law too.
Sadly, we as people choose to ignore this important insight into humanity and legislation. Consequently, inequality is also glorified and it becomes quite tough meet most people in our country as equal human beings.
Most of the ones who are a bit richer than you expect from you a slave- like behavior and the most of the ones who are a bit poorer than you start to touch your knees and feet if you are a bit nice to them. And if you don’t fit into this scheme, you keep hovering between the most perfidious villain and some angelic presence from a distant planet.
However, this sense of superiority creates its own legitimacy about taking others, their property, their selves and even their life which is often justified with spiritual superiority or being mates with purposes of nature or history.
Thus, this false legitimacy leads to many horrible crimes against the most vulnerable people in the society. It becomes a kind of consensus against reason, conscience and democratic laws and the society becomes a big crime against humanity itself.
The third important reason is about indifference to suffering of the victims. You come across the expressions like` what is so fuss about it, boys are boys ` or` she is not new to it’.
The hierarchy of humanity also bestows so many privileges upon the superior ones which teach the inferior ones to view their sorrow and pain as blessing.
In addition, in the cases of rape campaigns, rape is also viewed as a right of noble warriors. At times, denial of humanity of poor victims is also used as a justification for indifference to suffering of the oppressed.
At times, religion is invoked to hurt and harm and feel good about it. Yes we have signed so many international treaties that view this attitude as criminal and we have made so many laws that promise redress to the victim but this arrogance has been turned to a way of life. As a consequence, seeking justice and redress leads to more suffering.
Well, these reasons clearly highlight the totalitarian nature of sexual violence. However a legal system based upon reason and conscience was developed to stop one of the most horrible versions of totalitarianism in the twentieth century.
Sexual violence aims to destroy, eliminate and annihilate human beings. It is quite painful and sorrowful experience for victims. Life is not about living as a normal person. For some victims, it becomes about trying to live. For some people, it becomes about attempts at not dying. For some victims it is about repeated attempts at dying. For some people it is death of reason and conscience. Some of these reactions perpetuate the damage to individuals, reason and conscience.
It is easy to see the idiocy of our sages who glorified irrationality but then again when irrationality is normal and when a dead conscience is normal, easy becomes impossible.
Whatever, the way out is training people into democracy and citizenship. When you are trained as a democratic citizen, it becomes quite tough for you to have what is not yours, to feel superior to your fellow beings especially in a fascist way and to be indifferent to what happens. A generation trained in this way could defeat the fascist ways of our culture. I don’t know which generation we decide to educate into democracy, citizenship, reason, conscience and compassion but like I said that is the way out.
We often take pride in training our people as pious and virtuous. Sadly, the facts show us that we don’t have many pious and virtuous people among us. Perhaps, we need to align our take on piety and virtue to reason and conscience.