September 15th, 2020
Taking to the streets a day later, but inspiring enough to make people stop and turn, celebrities held a demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club against the rising cases of violence against women and children in the country.
“I believe celebrities have the power to act as catalysts of change in society,” said renowned star Mahira Khan. “Film and TV celebrities have always come out on the streets to raise their voices in support over a number of issues from the Zainab case to Aurat March, adding that the motorway gang rape case in Lahore and the gang rape and murder of a five-year-old in Karachi has ended up in shaking up the society.
“We have always spoken for these issues,” she added. “It’s an opportunity where celebrities can be involved as catalysts of change through their narratives in movies and plays.”
According to fellow actor, Aijaz Aslam the motorway gang rape reflected the failure of the system, adding that it was a moment of shame for the policy and lawmakers.
“These incidents keep on happening because culprits are not brought to justice,” he says. “There are no deterrent laws and harsh sentences; the suspect in the motorway gangrape case had reportedly committed two rapes prior to this yet he was roaming around outside, free to do it again. I would request the Prime Minister to get personally involved in the case. Strict laws need to be enacted so that nobody dares commit heinous crimes again,” the actor remarks.
Actress Sarah Khan who is out protecting for the first time said, “A rapist should be given a harsh sentence so no man can dare think of committing such acts of violence. Our society has reached such a stage that mothers, daughters, and even dead women are not safe here.”
“Even if these protests fail to galvanize people into bringing change in society, it will truly be a sad moment for us all,” the actress says.
A visibly distressed Adnan Siddiqui called the motorway gangrape an act of extreme ‘barbarity’. “We have become worse than even animals. These protests must not be limited to one day but should continue till victims get justice,” he said. The actor reiterated his demand for the removal of the Lahore police chief Umer Sheikh. “I request the Prime Minister Imran Khan to give the perpetrators the harshest of sentences,” he added.
Actress Ayesha Omar emphasized the need for raising awareness among parents on how to educate their children on violence and abuse. “We need to educate men about these issues. Children should be given training and education on these topics early in their lives,” she suggests. Omar called for speedy trials for domestic and sexual abuse cases, adding that a three percent conviction rate in these crimes was dismally low.
Meanwhile, Yasir Hussain said that all segments of society must work together to stem the spiraling number of sexual abuse cases, adding that many incidents are still not reported. “We now need to educate men on how to behave with women,” the actor adds.
Actor Ali Rehman Khan says the purpose of the celebrities coming out to protest was to raise awareness and sensitize people about violence against women and children. He says the government should enact tough laws and ensure their implementation.