On the Independence Day of Pakistan, a devastating incident took place. Several videos have surfaced of the horrific assault in which a woman was making her TikTok video near Minar-e-Pakistan, and hundreds of men swarmed the victim, tearing her clothes, molesting, groping, and tossing her in the air. Those standing around decided to make videos rather than intervene. The despicable occurrence went on for an hour before some people finally managed to save her. The tragic event has put every citizen to shame as a wave of utter helplessness and anger has descended upon the country. But what has emboldened these protectors of women to carry out such gross violations in broad daylight? From ‘men are not robots’ to a twisted perception of religion, a plethora of factors have played a role that resulted in this dreadful incident. The extent of the rotten mentality that plagues this nation can be determined by the comments on these videos. Although some are expressing their solidarity for the victim, these remarks, however, are overshadowed by a substantial number of comments justifying this horrific incident. The blame, once again, is being put on the victim rather than the assailants. Questions regarding her dress and whether she was alone or not, outnumbered those expressing sympathy. The accomplices who often justify such kinds of events do it under the garb of religion. Devoid of any empathy, the self-righteous attitude blinds them to the pain of the victim; they believe the victim brought this upon themselves. By laying the responsibility of modesty solely on women, they dissolve themselves from guilt and accountability. And when the leader of the nation himself states that men are not robots, they feel validated and empowered. Suddenly, it is men who are the victim of such a fahaash society and not women. From ‘men are not robots’ to a twisted perception of religion, a plethora of factors have played a role that resulted in this dreadful incident. Antonia Abbey, a social psychologist at Wayne State University, tells us that men who blame their victim rather than expressing remorse are more likely to commit the deed again. Since the blame does not lie with them, they feel like they have not done anything wrong. Consequently, one factor that remains prevalent in all men who have raped or harassed women is that they do not view themselves as the problem. Such men enthusiastically call for the veiling of all women, but forget what the Quran commands the former. Before enjoining modesty upon women, in the 30th verse of Surah Nur – God orders men to lower their gaze and guard their carnal desires. Yet every time our preachers talk about humility, they seem to suffer a wave of amnesia and forget the responsibility of men. It is like what Manto said – Ap Duniya ki tamam aurton ko burqa pehna dain phir bhi hisaab apko apni ankhon ka dena hoga – You can cover up every woman in the world, but still be answerable for your own sight. Another key factor is the misogynistic nature of our patriarchal society. By propagating the narrative that men are somehow superior to women in all aspects, street harassment has reached epidemic proportions. Considered to be a source of amusement for most men, ogling at women remains the most common form of public harassment. From inappropriate remarks and gestures to stalking, every woman at some point in her life has suffered sexual harassment. They also consider harassment as their spiritual right to enforce strict segregation in society. Repeated justifications such as “that is what boys do” and “they do it to everyone” have only trivialized these incidents as a normal part of life. Most families take the harassment done by the male members lightly and laugh it off. This culture has promoted the feeling of invincibility in the male assailants. Hence, they consider it their right to have fun at the expense of the vulnerable section of society. In addition to this tradition, the culture of reducing women to sexual objects dehumanizes them as “fantasy sex objects without personal sexual boundaries” as explained by Shawn Burn, a psychology professor at California Polytechnic State University. Moreover, when victims are not given justice and the offender walks scot-free, it entails traumatic ramifications for the women. From adverse effects on mental health to diminishing self-worth, women often blame themselves for being helpless in the face of such events. They lose faith in society and suffer extensive psychological distress. It includes feelings of frustration, helplessness, shame, nervousness, and depression. Although there are laws that offer protection to women against harassment and sexual abuse, such cases rarely come to light. Either to protect the ‘honor’ of the family or because of the general perception that the police is part of the problem, not the solution. Lacking protection from the law and society has only aggravated the situation to the point where a mob felt emboldened enough to commit such a horrific incident. When a woman is raped on the motorway, the question arises why was she traveling at night. When she is harassed in broad daylight, the question arises why was she not at home. When she is molested by her family members at home, there is a deafening silence. Maybe the cognitive dissonance is too much to bear. The real question is – how many more examples do we need before we realize that there is a big problem in the way we view and treat women? The culture has ingrained violence and harassment and there is a need for immediate re-education and strict accountability. The state needs to play a proactive role to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. The writer is a graduate of the University of London.