“I thought about the girl. She was only 16. Then I looked into his eyes and slapped him”. She replied to my query. I wanted to give her a tight hug, although we don’t share any such relation and I am not an anti-men kind of woman but the reaction of this girl under those circumstances was something that must have been acknowledged. It was a fine day and I was busy in my household chores, when Rabia my maid came running and said “haye baji apko kia bataoon , aik larki nay larkay ki khoob dhulai ki” (a girl beat a boy hard). Naturally I was interested and asked for the full story. I realized it’s the girl who comes to our house every month for polio drops and I knew her. The first time we met was not a pleasant memory for either of us. I was standing in the Lobby near the entrance of our house when I saw an unknown girl, wearing an Abaya, entered our main gate, and was headed towards where I was standing. I rudely asked her who she was and why is she in my house without consent. She was all blank and didn’t know what to answer. I inquired her one more time and was about to bash her more when my co-sister came rushing and told me “bhabhi, relax she is a polio worker and has been coming here for last 3 months. So we kind of know her”. I felt weird still; then I realized that since my kids are past that age so I might have not seen her around. I turned to her and asked her “why didn’t you tell me”, to which she again had no answer so she lowered her gaze. Now I wondered if it was actually that same shy, inarticulate girl so I decided to ask her what happened, the next time we meet, and we did meet, after 10 days as I had instructed my driver to let me know whenever she comes. “The new girl with me was so young and terribly frightened as it was her first day. I thought what if next time I couldn’t come and he manages to take her somewhere or what if she gets so petrified that she decides to leave her job, so I reacted” She was giving polio drops to the little ones of our house. I asked her about the incident. She told me that she along with her team used to cover Model Town, Faisal Town and Gulberg III and II areas of Lahore. They usually split in to twos and go to different streets. That day some new girls were with them as trainees. She was knocking the door of a house when a boy came on a motorbike and tried to talk to them. She ignored him as she faced such situations every day. The guy followed them the whole time they were in model town. They then gathered and headed for the Gulberg area in their van. Again they split to cover many houses when she was stopped by someone who blocked their way with his bike and offered them a phone number on a piece of paper. “That was the moment”, she said. “I thought about this girl, she was only 16, then I looked into his eyes and slapped him”. ‘Wow’ was my response. “He was shocked and tried to hit me back”, she continued her story. “We started shouting and people came from surrounding area and got hold of him”. “What gave you the courage” I asked her. She said it came from somewhere she still didn’t know. “The new girl with me was so young and terribly frightened as it was her first day. I thought what if next time I couldn’t come and he manages to take her somewhere or what if she gets so petrified that she decides to leave her job, so I reacted”. The man ended beaten up and put to lockup as her team immediately called the police. At the premise of Zainab’s case which had shaken our senses as a nation, many questions were surfacing about the safety of women and children at the hands of these predators. Wait! Predators? I wonder if that’s the right word. Do these people, involved in such activities, have horns or red eyes or a demonic look as we find in movies? No, not at all. This is exactly where the problem lies. These people easily put wool over other people’s eyes. The man who harassed these girls, Mehwish, the polio worker told me, was a driver in a house in Model Town and had a wife and a daughter. Now that was a shock. The man himself had a daughter. How do we identify such criminal minds? Sadly, we can’t. So the thing to do is to react, speak out or may be shout. People on the contrary mostly prefer to remain silent. This year, however we saw that women have fastened their belts against these inhumane acts. Over 300 Hollywood actresses came together to fight against sexual harassment at workplace. They all wore black in Golden Globe awards 2018 to show support to the victims. The case of Larry Nasser, the gymnasts’ doctor, is another example where 140 athletes gave their verdict and he was sentenced to 60 years in imprisonment. In a tweet, actress Nadia Jamil shared her own experience of harassment as a child by her qari sahab, her driver and then an educated elite family’s son. She said she won’t shut up as her family’s honour was not wrapped in her body. She clearly stated that “shame is not mine, the only shame is in keeping silence”. She said she is a survivor and a proud mother. Her daring tweet was followed by Frieha Altaf, the offender being their cook in her case and Maheen khan who was also pestered by her Maulvi saab. The story of Mehwish taught me two things. One is that women from all sects of society are getting conscious and responsive which is the need of the hour. The other is that how strong or weak a woman might be, she might suffer silently when tormented, but she does react and speak up when she sees some other woman suffering the same damage. That is why she is a mother, sister and a daughter and she deserves respect. The men mentioned above, a driver, a maulvi, a chef or an elite educated person, they all must have sisters or daughters. The thing is to make them realise, they are supposed to respect women as a whole not only women of their own families.