Pakistan according to the Guardian is ranked one of the lowest in the list of countries trying to tackle male sexual abuse. While prime victims of heinous crimes such as sexual harassment are mostly women, it does not in any capacity give us the leeway to neglect visibly less affected genders.
Last weekend, the famous Pakistani filmmaker broke his silence on the issue claiming he’d been sexually harassed at the age of 13. As jaw dropping as it sounds, Jami opened up about his abuse to his followers on twitter. “Why I am so strongly supporting #MeToo? Because, I know exactly how it happens now – inside a room, then outside courts and inside courts” said Jami. He went on to say that the perpetrator himself is “a very powerful person in our media world”. Jami speaking about his experience didn’t only make him the face of bravery but also made him an archetype for resistance. Recalling instances of abuse may be traumatic but time and again, every story of abuse reinstates the existence of power in our lives. Harassment, abuse, exploitation and manipulation are all after effects of people assuming power over another being and for all we know it might just be as frequent for men as it is for women.
A common misconception pertaining to abuse in Pakistan is that its chief victims are females, which is not true. Here are some common myths pertaining to male sexual abuse in Pakistan:
Myth #1: Boys Don’t Get Sexually Abused
The matter of harassment or at large sexual abuse is not gender-specific. Time and again, especially in our society, the issue is brushed under female protection completely overlooking the fact that almost 8% of males go through sexual abuse globally and even more in some countries such as Kenya via a UNICEF survey conducted in 2010. According to the Business Recorder, 1,738 juvenile males from a total of 3,832 were victims of sexual violence last year.
BBC Urdu stated 7,242 boys were sexually abused from 2013 until early 2019 in Pakistan. Sahil, an NGO working for child protection rights claimed 12 children every day faced some sort of abuse in Pakistan. Geo reported the rape of a minor boy in Korangi last Saturday as he left his house for tuitions.
Myth #2: It’s Not As Traumatic For Boys
It is belittling to think a certain gender has it better because it’s the same sex. It is just as traumatic for males. Especially in a country like Pakistan, thriving on the shame that lingers around men opening up. As society encourages unnatural levels of masculinity, it leaves young men in the hands of self-harm, depression, and isolation. The concept of “manning up” also plays a rather tricky role here.
Myth #3: Only Gay Men Sexually Abuse
There is absolutely no evidence to prove only homosexual folk abuse men. Abuse is assault and perpetrators do not gender discriminate. Abuse takes place as a result of power relations where the only force driving offenders is nonconsensual domination. The orientation of the offender does not in any way affect or is relevant to the situation, in most cases.
Myth #4: Male Victims “Got Lucky”
The shame that lingers around men talking about sexual experiences treads a fine line in Pakistan. In a country where men feel absolutely no shame talking about pleasurable experiences, it is almost unthinkable for them to speak about sexual abuse. And again, we don’t blame them for this. It is us, as a society who need to understand the complexities and trauma associated with such experiences. More often than not, in male circles abuse is not only joked about but also regarded as getting lucky. Being abused does not bring any joy, sexual or otherwise. It only contributes to long-term trauma and psychological stress.
Myth #5: Coming out Would Affect Relationships
With crime culture on the rise and close to no data catering to the minor male population, this should be a global priority. The top evident reasons why male abuse isn’t reported in my opinion include social stigma, unrealistic standards of masculinity, homophobia and more. Creating safe spaces and avenues for young men to channel their thoughts and grievances should be given priority after normalizing being vocal about such incidents.
We can only hope that this recent divulgence of reporting abuse in Pakistan serves as a stepping stone for all genders.
Maryam’s a Communication and Design major and an English and Comparative Literature minor at Habib University. She thoroughly enjoys reading South Asian Literature and is a Partition Literature enthusiast, who is often found admiring the origins of cultural theory.
While one may occasionally find her at events catering to art and culture in Karachi, she would much rather be home binge-watching British comedy.
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