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Women across Pakistan to protest against Lahore motorway rape today

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Women across Pakistan will protest today Saturday (September 12) against the rape of a woman on the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway.

a woman was raped in front of her children by two unidentified men on the motorway. She was driving to Gujranwala when she ran out of fuel near Lahore’s Gujjarpura. The woman was sitting in her vehicle when two men walked towards her car, broke her window, and made her park on the roadside. They then took her and the children to a nearby forest and raped her.

The men fled after the rape, taking with them Rs100,000 in cash, and jewellery.

The case was made worse after Lahore CCPO Umar Sheikh criticised the woman’s decision to take the motorway route while appearing on Dunya News soon after the case was reported.

“The story is that this woman, if it is in your knowledge, left Defence at 12:30am for Gujranwala,” said CCPO Sheikh while talking to the news channel. “First, I am surprised that she, a mother of three children, was the only driver.” She left Defence and should’ve taken GT Road, where there are shops and people nearby. “If you are taking the other way, then at least make sure your vehicle has fuel,” he said.

After the news broke out, women across the country were enraged. The recent cases of the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl in Karachi and the murder of a transgender in Peshawar added fuel to the fire.

These protesters want security from harassment and sexual violence and they want it now. They want the perpetrators to be arrested as soon as possible. They want the government to stop talking and start doing. And, most importantly, they want the culture of victim blaming to end and CCPO Sheikh to be removed from his post.

According to a statement uploaded by the Aurat March, the organisers of the protest, the way one chooses to dress, the time of day or night, the place or who they are with does not justify rape in any way.

“Rape happens because of rapists, because of power dynamics, because of rape culture, because of objectification and commodification of women’s bodies, because society allows it and looks the other way,” it said.

The organisers have, however, expressed opposition to the calls for public hangings and capital punishment for the perpetrators. “These knee-jerk reactions only derail from the patriarchal roots of the issue,” their statement read.

The protests are going to be held in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Multan and Hyderabad. In Karachi and Islamabad, the protesters will gather outside the city’s press clubs at 4pm.

Lahore will come together at Liberty Chowk at 5pm. In Multan, the protesters will gather near Nishter Gate number three at 10am. Protesters in Hyderabad will start gathering outside the press club at 11am.

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