Sexual Harrasment: Me too

Written and Narrated by: Fozia Tahir

The recent #metoo campaign against sexual harassment was an eye opening social campaign for me. Nearly 80% of the women in my friend list reached out to the world by saying they have been sexually harassed at work on in closely knit family and community setups. While a couple of my male friends showed their support not a single one of them said they had been affected by sexual harassment too. This shows that violence against women is worth all the feminist debates that ever existed.
What was also super inspirational about these young ladies in my friend list is that they have grown up to become stronger women and better people and are contributing towards several gender and world development orientated goals. Some of the stories narrated by my friends gave me Goosebumps. So here I take off my shoes, put my feet in the shoe of sexually harassed and assaulted women and scribble a poem in the first half of the article. In the next half I have tried to academically explain the issue of sexual harassment to inform myself and others about the topic.

I am sending you love, because me too

An old man I respected once cracked a dirty joke,
Day in and day out I received anonymous calls,
I ignored all of this and kept looking away,
Has any of this emotional abuse happened to you?
I am sending you love, because me too

Were you young and naïve playing alone in the wild?
Were you brave enough to stay out late in the dark?
In a family event full of people, did it happen to you?
‘The world is not a safe place’ do you now believe it’s true?
I am sending you love, because me too

How wise, and respected was your molester?
How filthy did you feel with every touch of that monster?
Did you dare protest or in silence choke back?
How guilty, how helpless, how shocked did it leave you?
I am sending you love, because me too

Did you come back home and throw those clothes away?
Did you have anyone to turn to and seek support?
Or were you clueless about how or where to report?
were you worried about how small they would make you feel?
I am sending you love, because me too

Did they ask you, ‘what were you wearing’?
Did they start the victim blaming?
‘You shouldn’t have been there on your own’ did they say?
There is no point in putting pebbles in the mud, stay away!
Is this what happened to you?
I am sending you love, because me too

Do you know of a local authority you could go to?
Or a national law that might support you?
any helpline, number your school or college shared with you?
Or did you survive those days without an idea of what to do?
I am sending you love, because me too

through it all, have you become a stronger person?
Are you worried for the future of your children?
Have you decided to take a stand and speak up?
do you believe in empowerment of men and women’?
I am sending you love because me too.

Sexual harassment is a serious social problem. The strategies most commonly used by women to cope with harassment range from avoiding or ignoring the harasser to reporting the incident.
There isn’t a single agreed upon definition for sexual harassment. Most researchers define it as “a psychological experience based on a sexually unwanted, offensive, and threatening behaviour at work”. Several authors have defined three types of sexual harassment,
Gender harassment
Unwanted sexual attention
Sexual coercion
Gender harassment (hostile, offensive, intimidating, and degrading verbal and nonverbal behaviour against women) is a type of subtle sexual harassment aimed at deterring women from transgressing male domains rather than being an expression of sexual attraction.
Unwanted sexual attention: Most evident types include verbal and nonverbal behaviour, such as persistent nonreciprocal requests for dates, letters, phone calls, deliberate touching, grabbing, sexual advances and propositions, and assault). This behaviour is perceived by the target as unwelcome, unreciprocated, and offensive acts of sexual interest.
Sexual coercion, also known as quid pro quo or sexual blackmail, is the most explicit and recognizable type of sexual harassment, where the harasser, a person in power, demands sexual favours from a subordinate worker in exchange for organizational rewards and benefits or threats of reprisal related to job prospects and conditions (e.g., job security and promotion)
Though both men and women may be exposed to sexual harassment, the literature on harassment is consistent in reporting that an overwhelming number of victims are women, and harassers are men. Thus, one out of every two to three women have experienced some type of sexual harassment or have been subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour.
The strategies most frequently used by women to cope with harassment range from avoiding or ignoring the harasser to reporting the offence. Unfortunately, none of these strategies has proven to be clearly effective in combating harassment at work, nor in raising the confidence of workers (i.e., potential victims) regarding their expectations towards their current employers. Studies have shown that women who report incidents of harassment are often threatened with reprisals for reporting the incident or making it public. A further strategy employed by women in coping with sexual harassment is confronting the harasser. Some studies have found that active confrontation benefited victims by empowering women, and by helping them to expose social inequality. The tendency to respond negatively to any woman who attempt to draw limits as to the behaviours of men, particularly if these infringe traditional gender roles, is enshrined and perpetuated by the sexist ideology. A good example is a study where women who challenged traditional gender roles and undermined male authority were found to be negatively evaluated by men.
Sexism has a role to play in it. The fact that men and women are different and certain acts by men are acceptable because of their gender fuels the issue of harassment. In general, sexism is associated to attitudes legitimizing violence against women, and would explain the nexus between hostile sexism and blaming the victim. Myths of sexual harassment, including beliefs such as self-victimization, that women enjoy acts of violence, these acts are only committed by mentally deranged men, or that women exaggerate their reports are common to all women.

Impact of Sexual Violence:
The impact of sexual violence goes way beyond physical injuries e.g.
The world may not feel like a safe place anymore
You no longer trust others, you don’t even trust yourself
You may question your judgement, your self-worth and even your sanity
You may blame yourself for what happened or believe you are ‘dirty’ or ‘damaged goods’.
You may struggle with anxiety or depression.
It is worth remembering that you are experiencing a normal reaction to trauma. Dispelling the toxic victim blaming myths about sexual violence can help you start healing. Remember that you are not to be blamed for what happened to you and you can regain your sense of safety and trust.
Sexual assault especially rape victims should not be blamed as rape is a crime of opportunity. Rapists choose victims based on their vulnerability and not on how sexy they appear or how flirtatious they are.
Recovery from sexual trauma takes time and healing can be a very painful, but with the right strategies and support, you can move past the trauma, rebuild your sense of control and self-worth and even come out the other side feeling stronger and more resistant.

No matter how hard life is on you, speak up, seek help, heal and help others heal too

 

P.s. A big shout out to Peter Bickerton for reading the poem and encouraging its publication.

Questions:
1. Could a woman asking a man for coffee be categorised a sexual harassment, specifically if the man is obliged to say yes to a lady?
2. Do men understand what rape does/means to a woman? Is it more than violence for them as it is for women?

References:

Herrera, M. C., Herrera,A., Expósito, F. 2017. To confront versus not to confront: Women’s perception of sexual harassment. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context. In press

http://www.helpguide.org

Sapac.umich.edu

http://www.sexualharrasmenttraining.biz

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A working Muslim lady? Who owns the income…

Written and Narrated by: Rabia Nazir

Men and women have been created to run the cycle of life in harmony yet with diversity. While a Muslim woman has been freed from the obligation of breadwinning for the family, her core role is to strengthen the family ties; most importantly raising the off springs as good human beings as her contribution to the society as well as Islam. However, Islam does not restrict the women inside the four walls of the house. We can find many examples of working ladies from early era of Islamic revolution. Hazrat Khadeeja (R.A), the first wife of Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him), was a successful and in fact the wealthiest businesswoman in the Makkah at that time. Thus, Muslim women have right to get a degree, have a career choice, run a business, and own a property. They are also entitled for inheritances in the property of guardian. I shall try to cover all aspects (focusing on the false believes) associated with the financial standing of women in Islam in my upcoming podcasts. Today, I want to dust off massive misunderstanding about the right of a woman on her own income.
A Muslim women, no matter how rich she is, is NOT responsible for spending her income on her family. It is solely man’s responsibility to provide for the life essentials for his family (parents, wife, and children). While wife in principle is not obliged to spend, she can with her free will and if she does, it will be regarded as favour (ehsaan) for her husband. I will narrate an incident here for endorsement from the wife of `Abdullah ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him). She used to work and earn a living. On one occasion, she asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) if she could donate her money to her poor husband, to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Yes, and you will be rewarded twice.”(An-Nasa’i). In addition, wife is always entitled for the monthly pocket money from her husband even if she is working herself unless she willingly gives up on it or the marriage itself dissolves. It is also clearly having been said is Quran:

“Whatever men earn, they have a share of that and whatever women earn, they have a share in that.” (Quran 4:32]

Here our society shows a disappointing face where apparently, even in conservative families, women are supported to seek degrees and work but not many of them actually sum up the courage to speak about their access to their own salaries. I personally know many examples where all their income is snatched or at least she faces restriction on spending her money out of free will. The worst case scenario is physical and mental torture in case of refusal and making her to beg for each penny for basic personal needs. It is mostly practiced in labour class and lower middle class where family is financially dependent on few earning hands (including a women in many cases) but mature working couples are no exception to it. In my acquaintances, I have also known to examples where wife’s salary is credited in husband’s account and she is not allowed to maintain her own bank account. Limited income resources coupled with the intense desire to win the race of ‘social status’ lead to the need of controlling the spending rights of woman in poor. While the ‘so-called open-minded’ men are also afraid of financial independency of a woman. It makes me even sadder when I see well-educated men treating their daughter and wives like a dumb cow. While an educated working wife is a nice show-off to the society, at the same time they hypocritically believe that financially independency makes women strong in head. Such a women becomes difficult to control and hard to please. A girl who has earned a degree after spending at least 16-18 years and who have tasted out-door life during education and work should not be trusted enough to spend her money wisely?
This clarification comes with some other aspects too. Of course, the decision of pursuing a career is based on the understanding between husband and wife; it should be a good-will gesture from husband to his lady that he respects her desire to grow intellectually and financially. While many of men might not be ‘narrow-minded’, the fear of disapproval from friends and family greatly affects their thinking pattern. The career choice also matters a lot; academia and health industry based professions are happily acceptable for women in our society, whereas women in technical and trade oriented careers struggle much more and face greater challenges from male fellow colleagues and family members.
I have dared to open up the discussion on this sensitive aspect of a working lady. I have witnessed sufferings happening to my colleagues/friends and stayed silent thinking in my head that ‘It is someone’s personal matter’ or ‘It is their right way to fix their girls’. In my opinion, the real issue is the lack of authentic knowledge as well as the cultural acceptance of the rights for women that Allah has granted those 14 centuries ago. Not raising my finger to anyone but I simply accept my responsibility to raise my son(s) with respect for a women’s right and be a real man who is not afraid of his wife’s or daughter’s independence. If you are a young educated girl too, would you promise me the same?
We, at Meer-e-Karwan, thrive to ‘change the thinking’ about the least cared or talked about social aspects affecting our everyday lives. Please be open to share your experiences and opinions about today’s topic with us!!

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Student movements, police crackdowns and Kang’s Human Acts.

Written and Narrated by: Huma Khan

The mechanisms of coping with bereavement are complex in the most anticipated of situations and the effects of a death upon the living friends and family are often permanent. So in the context of death that is brutal, unnecessary and avoidable – acceptance and coping can become next to impossible with a lasting and disabling aftermath upon the living relatives and friends.

Weaving the stories of various lives affected by one death as well as giving an insight into her connection to the historical narrative – Kang poses a fundamental question to her readership – what is humanity? The novel is based on the backdrop of the Gwangju uprising of May 1980, where students and other civilians protesting for democracy were repressed and purged by the military – with the death toll argued to be above 2000.

This podcast is a brief introduction to the text of this novel, a historical background in which the story is set and more than anything – it is an imploration to the audience of Meer e Karwan to pick up this book and reflect. Reflect on the sanctity of universities as intellectual spaces; on the duty of Governing institutes towards its citizens; the moral accountability of external Governments in providing financial and arms to carry out these operations; and more fundamentally, reflect on what humanity is and its meanings in the contemporary society, where the modern world is riddled with conflict, war and disaster.

 

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World Suicide Prevention Day

 

Written and Narrated by: Fozia Tahir

Global issues are getting complex day by day. safeguarding peace, protecting human rights, establishing the framework for international justice, climate change, and refugee crises are some of the major challenges that the globe is facing at the moment. As time passes by the list is only growing and the issues are getting complex. The one that you are affected to directly grabs more of your attention than the others. For me in recent times, suicide has been one such issue.

Suicide is the 14th leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 1-5% of all mortality. Because suicide is a conscious decision of an individual to end their life, developing methods to predict and prevent its occurrence in majority is majorly the responsibility of psychologists, psychiatrist and related metal health professionals.

But before we get into the details of this topic it’s important to understand what theories and models have been developed to understand the suicidal behaviour of people. Contemporary models of suicide are diathesis stress in origin. These models suggest that the negative results of pre-existing vulnerability factors are especially pronounced when activated by stress. There are models such as that of linehan’s model of emotional dysregulation which underpins dialectal behaviour therapy i.e. to help people suffering from mood disorders as well as those who need to change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as suicidal ideation. While, other theoretical developments have focused on an individuals’ appraisal system.

Interpersonal theory of suicide:

According to this theory when the desire for suicide merges with the capability for suicide this can lead to near lethal suicide attempts and are associated with thwarted belongingness such as feeling lonely and perceived burdensomeness that is considering yourself a burden and not seeing a way out of it.

Integrated motivational volitional model of suicidal behaviour:

This model conceptualises suicide as a behaviour rather than a mental disorder that develops through motivational and volitional phase. It suggests that there is pre motivational phase that could be due to the environment you live in, major life events, or diathesis leading to a motivational phase in which an individual feels defeat and humiliation and feels entrapped in the situation and this leads to suicide ideation and leading the individual to the volitional phase where they may develop suicidal behaviour..

I think both these theories are correct in different situations. The basic idea is that this behaviour develops over a period of time in an individual and can be taken care of if people around them notice their behaviour and help them with it.

vulnerability to suicidal behaviours: risk and protective factors

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Protective factors are characteristics that make it less likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide.

Factors associated with suicide risk can be classified into four groups

  1. Personality and individual differences- e.g. hopelessness, impulsivity, perfectionism, neurotisicm and extroversion, optimism and resilience
  2. Cognitive factors: cognitive rigidity, rumination, thought suppression, autobiographical memory biasis, belongingness and burdensomeness, fearlessness about injury and death, pain insensitivity, problem solving and coping, agitation, implicit associations, future thinking, goal adjustment, entrapment
  3. Social factors: social isolation,exposure to death by suicide of others, assortative homiphilly, contagion, social transmission
  4. Negative life events: childhood adversities, traumatic life events, physical illness, deceiving adulthood, interpersonal stressors, psychological stress response

Major protective factors include the following:

  • Effective mental health care • Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions • Problem-solving skills • Contacts with caregivers

Role of faith

As I was thinking about prevention I thought at first of faith. As I am a muslim and suicide is forbidden or what we call “haram” in Islam.

In Surah 16 verse 16 is is said about death, “when their time comes they cannot delay it for a single hour,nor can they bring it forward by a single hour”. It is believed that the soul of a person who commits suicide doesn’t salvate and remains astray on earth.. that scares me and the idea that this life is a gift of god to me that the soul shall one day return to him is what I have learnt and believed in my whole life.. to see if other faiths say the same I read a little about each faith.

Christianity too believes that life is given by god and human beings are made in god’s image. Suicide is considered a mortal sin. The catechism asserts, “we are stewards, not owners of the life god has entrusted to us. it is not our to dispose off”.

Hinduism and Busdhism regards all life forms to be sacred and follow the principle of ahimsa of no harm. With the exception of prayopavesa in Hinduism.

According to a chief Jewish rabbi the value of human life is infinite and beyond measure so the worth of a single second in life is as high as that of seventy years.

Jews don’t bury the bodies in the same cemetery and don’t perform all the ritual for them.

Sikh gurus have as well rejected suicide considering it an interface in god’s plan suffering is a part of karma and should be accepted by human beings to make the best of situation life has given them.

Suicide Journalism

The next issue of utmost importance is the projection of suicides. Certain type of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide. Suicide is a public health issues and some suicide deaths maybe newsworthy but the graphics and the headlines should be thought through. The news should encourage help seeking displaying the suicide helplines at all times instead of showing the pictures of location or mourning. The audience should be informed without sensationalising the news. Such as instead of speaking to the police the issue of public health should be discussed to inform the audience and talk about cause and treatment options.

Warning signs: talking about dying and ways to kill, feeling hopeless, feeling trapped or having unbearable pain, being burden, increasing alcohol and drug use, acting anxious and agitated, mood swings, feeling lonely, sleeping too little or too much and so on

You should not leave such people alone,and keep sharp objects alcohol and toxic chemicals away from them

I hear news of young people taking their lives from where I come that is the northen areas of Pakistan and I think to myself what can I do about this? While I am sitting here I can only educate myself and everyone else about it. Get them to speak about it.

No matter how hard life is on you, you have to pick yourself up, make it meaningful, find the purpose of your life and if you haven’t found the purpose of your life yet then go and find. You have perhaps heard many people say this but you need to know what is it that you enjoy doing the most?

As you evolve in the process of finding the purpose of your life, you will find peace with things, events and people in your life and you will learn to heal if you were hurt..

We should heal slowly and steadily. We must all find peace in living and not in death.. so let us all unite together with the hope the suicides this year will be less than last year, that we will all listen to each other, understand one another, accept each other.. and not just that we will also encourage each other to live and we must all believe that the best is yet to come..

Let us not feel trapped.. let us enjoy our freedom while we may.

This year the world suicide prevention day is on the 10th of September. The theme for this year is ‘take a minute, change a life’..

So take out a minute..speak to people around you, people who you know and love and people you don’t know..as it is said everyone is a fighting a battle that we don’t know about so we should be kind to them.

Lastly thank you for joining us for this podcast we are hoping to be able to do more on this topic, if there is any way we can help you? If we can speak to you for a minute, or speak to a mental health expert on your behalf we would be happy to do that.. for others please take a minute and change a life

Thanks

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