The headline of this post reads “Hooliganism and baton charge”. Many Pakistanis would recognize the headline instantly – it appears in local newspapers almost every day…a baton charge (and tear gas if that doesn’t work) seems to be the primary tool in the hands of law enforcement officials for controlling unruly crowds in Pakistan (who are are typically young men between the ages of 17-35). It is realy sad that (a) such heavy handed techniques have to be used (trust me, you do not want that baton landing on your back), and (b) that the youth becomes restless and unruly so easily and for stupidest reasons.
Quaid-e-Azam’s mazaar (mausolem of the founder of Pakistan) lies in the heart of the city of Karachi and is perhaps the most impressive architectural space for both locals and tourists to visit. Just a few years ago the city had spent millions of dollars on its renovations, cleaning the white marble structure completely, installing flood lights for ambience, and cultvating the gardens around the tomb. Thousands of people visit the place every day and millions drive around it to get from their homes to work. Needless to say, it is the most significant landmark for the largest city in Pakistan.
But guess what: a few rascals created trouble at this location on the anniversary of the independence day (one of the busiest days of the year) and the end result was a lathi charge on all those involved and millions of dollars in damages to the place. Damn it.
According to sources, the trouble on Tuesday evening had started following an incident of eve-teasing while the mausoleum was crowded with people paying homage to the Father of the Nation.
Some unruly youth indulged in eve-teasing and when girls raised a hue and cry, some sane people intervened to restrain the trouble-makers. However, the altercation between the two sides took the shape of free-for-all when people around joined in the quarrel, some on the youths’ side and some others on the others’. A fist-fighting ensued which later turned into a battle of bricks. During the battle, several doors of the Mazar, about 60 Bolard lights (along the walkways), more than 20 pole-mounted lights, 40 marble dust bins, 58 flower boxes at lower podium, over 700 running feet of decorative marble lattice, 40 garden benches, and many other things were damaged. The total loss has been estimated at Rs10 million.
People were seen desperately seeking police held and it was after their hectic efforts that some police personnel were located and called in. They started a baton-charge to bring the situation under control.
What in the heck is ‘eve-teasing’? Is this a common word now? Is this what young paki school boys would call “poondee“, i.e. single frustrated men taking out their sexual frustrations by teasing girls in public places (who are typically covered head to toe)? Its because of these rascals that girls in most families are not allowed to visit public places (not even shopping centers, let alone cinemas, theatres or public parks etc) on their own, and their freedoms are limited in so many other ways.
Its a damning reality that our men (and perhaps women as well, but I can’t speak for them at all) are so frustrated and cannot seem to control themselves when placed in the vicinity of women. How can we address this issue in our society? Two approaches come to mind (I am sure there are many others as well):
- further separate men from women. This is the preferred modus operandi of religious madrassahs who to-date seem to think men will never be able to control themselves in front of women, and that a firm purdah (curtain) should remain between them.
- find ways for men and women to mingle more freely, preferably when they are still young, so they can learn to respect each other and understand that opposite sex is neither threatening, nor something to be ‘conquered’.
I, ofcourse, support the second option. Opening up channels of communication, and allowing men and women to study, work and entertain together can be very helpful to our society. I am sure some would say I am promoting fahaashi (promiscuity), but to those ready to jump the gun I only have to say I don’t care what you think until you can prove to me first that any other system has worked better.
Would love to hear your thoughts.