All my life, I have been protected by my parents, my family and my friends-protected from the atrocities of this bloodthirsty world. However, as I pen down my feelings, I cannot help but think of the innumerable crimes that happen around me. As a child, I was always afraid of murder: death, to be precise. However, as I grew older, I became familiar with something perhaps worse than death itself for a woman-physical harassment. As I write this article overflowing with feelings of anger and confusion, I am reminded of the reason I became a lawyer. All my life, I have seen women being let down, snubbed and abused–both physically and mentally. As I became of age, I knew I had to do something, but I never really understood how a girl of mere 18 could make her voice count! And then, I figured it out. Everyone either respected money or power. What I found out was, honestly, hurtful. People who disregarded what I said at all while I was in A levels, asked for my political views some months later as I was beginning my law degree. That was my first lesson. Nobody will care what a woman thinks in Pakistan. Until she has power. I was wrong. As I continued with my degree and eventually graduated, I learned many other things about our society. A woman will not be respected here. Nothing you can do will matter. Everyone will look down upon you because, well, you are not a man. This culture of patriarchy is so embedded in our roots that what you say or do to shun it, can absolutely never work. If you are a man, you are automatically better-this mindset is a time bomb waiting to explode, taking everything with it. The story of a woman being stranded and harassed in front of her children, on the Lahore Gujranwala Motorway was highlighted. Then came Noor Mukaddam’s plight. Only recently, the case of Sania Khan has come to light. What do these victims have in common? They were all women. I have read all sorts of comments and tweets ranging from how terrible the incidents are, to how it is in fact the fault of these women. Islam is perhaps the only religion that empowered women so, and today it is used to nullify any rights laid down for women. The anger against feminism is engraved into our society to such an extent, that we refuse to talk about any women’s rights at all. Is that the issue? Feminism? Or is it that we merely refuse to take women for what they are: humans? Our society has been trying to break free from a made-up facade for quite a while. We try to be progressive people, but the question is, are we? Talking about women’s rights, standing up against physical abuse of women is dealt with in the most extreme ways. You are either treated like you have seen a ghost or are laughed at. The concept of giving rights as basic as life, privacy and marriage are stripped off women so easily. How can we imagine a place where women can live freely? We take away their rights when they are born. They are told to be quiet and obedient because it is their duty. They are always told everything. And, God Forbid a woman goes against anything, she’s rewarded by being killed for honour. Manto has explained the role of a woman beautifully – tragically beautiful, if you may. He said women are nothing but flesh waiting to be eaten by a group of hunger-stricken dogs. As a woman in Pakistan, I can relate to this. It will not matter what you wear, what your age is or even the fact that you’re dead. As long as you’re a woman, you are prey to a hungry lioness waiting to pounce at you. All these marches, these movements, do they even matter? They are termed as Western influence and against our religion. But, do tell me whether abusing women, physically and mentally is prescribed in our religion. Islam is perhaps the only religion that empowered women so, and today the same is used to nullify any rights laid down for women. Speaking up against the injustices of society is wrong, but carrying out the same injustices somehow isn’t? Using words such as “rape” is a clear taboo. “Why would you say something like that?” “That language should not be permissible.” The word is considered worse than the act itself. Even as I write this, I am thinking about the many people who will snub me for writing it. How “it’s better to be quiet about such things,” and “What’s the use of speaking up?” We might live in the 21st century but our minds and thoughts haven’t progressed even a little further than in the 19 century. No movement, march nor point of view must be blamed for this. We are the reason for the destruction of women’s liberation. Oh, but I almost forgot. We do speak up! We speak up when shows raise issues in our societies. Issues such as infidelity or child abuse or polygamy. How dare someone highlight these crimes in our society? We must ban any such things immediately. It’s funny, really, how children and adults alike will learn to commit these crimes, instead of learning from them. They are a threat to our society. A threat that might teach an abused woman to stand up for herself and her children. It is a mere threat to the men. The very insecure men who are afraid of women speaking up for themselves, for their rights. This society is filled with innumerable such men who make sure we do not progress because that is what we are to them, a threat. For a man, a real man will never humiliate a woman. He will give women the respect they deserve. He will treat them as humans. But, the problem lies within this very issue – this is exactly what men are afraid of – a woman who knows her worth. The writer is a lawyer and academic.