There is a huge social stigma attached to rape due to the
linkage of women’s chastity with the family’s honour. Myth says if you are an
honourable, chaste woman, you won’t get raped. Such linkage promotes silence
from the victim and their family because they have brought ‘dishonour’ to the
family, and encourages rapists since it removes any retribution. This deeply
flawed concept also accounts for the high number of honour killings in
Pakistan. Amnesty International reports deaths of 512 women and girls, and 156
men and boys in 2016 by relatives on so-called ‘honour’ grounds. Such crimes
against women and children in our society are strongly rooted in patriarchy. We
need to break out of this mindset by breaking the long-established myths.
This linkage of ‘honour’ does more than promoting silence and encouraging
rapists; it encourages victim-blaming. Upon hearing of a rape case, society
often starts to shift the blame to the victim or her family – questioning the
way she was dressed or carelessness in movements. The focus is immediately
shifts to reform women and children expecting them to dress in a certain way or
to limit their movements. It should come to no surprise then, that many people
on social media began blaming Zainab’s parents for leaving her alone at home to
perform Umrah. As if rape only takes place when a woman or child is home alone.
This victim-blaming attitude needs to stop because this does nothing more than
justify violence against women and this line of thinking needs to change.