Although violence against women and girls has always been an infringement of human rights that takes place at an alarming frequency, Pakistani media has always played a crucial (and positive) role in bringing up the issue in one way or another. Recently, PHAANS, a drama based on an assault-victim who fights for justice, came to the public eye with its star cast and a powerful script that followed. Although justice for victims in Pakistan tends to be more elusive and at most times, buried underneath the carpet by families because of victim-blaming, people have now openly started to take part in the conversation and (finally) stopped blaming victims. Since the Motorway incident that took Pakistani headlines by storm, the rape and murder cases in Islamabad and now the recent rape cases in Okara and Korangi (Punjab and Sindh), the nation has been forced to again bring up the conversation against violence. More on PHAANS outline: With the death of her mother, Zeba (Zara Noor Abbas) is left alone and in a state of depression after she is assaulted by one of the main antagonists and leads Sahil (Shehzad Sheikh). Things take a twisted turn when Hashim (Zain Afzal) reveals to Samad (Sami Khan) and Zeba that he was a witness to the assault, and kept quiet because of Sahil’s threat. Sahil (Shahzad Sheikh) was revealed to be faking his mental illness throughout the story, and is later guilty of the assault when the police show evidence against him. What caught the audience’s attention was the fact that Sahil’s parents end up realizing that their son is to be blamed for the mess, and persuade the court to give him the maximum punishment they can, for his disgusting crime. Expectation vs. Reality: Despite putting an emphasis on stories of women who have received justice (such as in Phaans), there is still a lack of it in real life. At a daily level, we hear and see featured stories of women, men, children and animals-being subjected to violence and rape. Additionally, people from all walks of life have now started coming forward with their stories and expressing the stories of harassment, assaults and violence women have faced in work places, on the streets, on public transport and even when sitting in safe environments such as their own homes. Even though rape is a criminal offence in Pakistan, at least 10 rape cases are reported in Pakistan every month, with over 22,000 rape cases reported to the police (alone) across the country in the last six years, out of which 85% were reported in Punjab, according to sources. Despite the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance 2020 and the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, reported rape cases have risen to 200 in the federal capital, with only one additional district and session’s judge authorized to look into such cases. It is then not a wonder that only a few incidents of rape are officially reported, as the process can be extremely painful for survivors who have to relive the trauma once again, just like Zeba from PHAANS. Though she is portrayed as one of the strong ones who are out to get vengeance, not a lot of women are able to do that out of shame and humiliation for their families, should they be recognized or a picture and name put to the incident. The WHY culture doesn’t stop: At some point or another, even though dramas like PHAANS are bringing out the shaming of abusers rather than the victims, most Pakistani women have found themselves facing the double standards stemming from all the ‘WHY’ questions by society: WHY DID SHE GO AT NIGHT? WHY WAS SHE DRIVING ALONE? WHY DID SHE WEAR THIS? WHY WAS SHE ALONE AT HIS HOUSE? WHY DIDN’T HER FAMILY WARN HER OF THE DANGERS OF GOING OUT ALONE? WHY WAS SHE TALKING TO HIM FOR SO LONG? The WHY questions never end. For most people, the questions make them realize that seeking justice and the chance for a fair trial will not be suitable, because of the ‘victim blaming’ culture in our country. Although we do realize that there’s a niche of men who are out there to support ‘feminism’ and ‘Aurat Marches’ around our country, there’s a fair majority of men (educated and uneducated) who are against the liberty, independence and freedom of women: BECAUSE they believe it leads to rape; and ultimately-the much dreaded ‘it was her fault for enticing him’. Our culture treats the female body to the extent that romanticizing COVERED women and those who bow down to men are considered as the anti-dotes to abuse. Let’s HOPE for a better future: I hope, someday, there comes a time in Pakistan that whatever is depicted in dramas like PHAANS, becomes a real life instance too. Till then, such dramas should be made; so that they continue to send out a strong message not just to the masses-but to the political lot and at a government level-something that keeps working on the issue of violence against women-until the respective authorities take notice.