A step by step guide for men on how to interview survivors of harassment

A guideline for men to stop centering themselves around conversations on women’s rights, and for once let women speak their minds

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal

Sub-Editor
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

The aftermath of the minar-e-Pakistan incident saw many men taking it on themselves to discuss their own perspective around what had happened, and further victim blaming women to insert into a conversation they are not at all educated about and proceed to lecture women further by blaming them for their clothes, their behavior or anything they did was what had caused their harassment.

Twitter was enraged a few days ago when a PTI senator on a talk show was asked about the kind of reforms and security measures need to be adapted so women can feel safer when they are in public spaces, he proceeded to victim blame the woman for her clothes

Another instance before this was when Twitter users were horrified that the vlogger Yasir Shami interviewed the survivor of the Minar-e-Pakistan incident, as they pointed out that he was the same man who had publicly supported celebrities who had accusations of harassment on them by several women, but also many uploaded links to his videos where he had condemned Aurat March

Many users criticized the body language of the male interviewer in this segment, and pointed out that how instead of letting the survivor take up space and demand for reform, the men were instead diminishing her importance and talking over her by calling her “bachi” and not allowing her to defend herself. Instead of providing a platform for women to speak up against the growing rates of femicide in the country, many women pointed out that male interviewers continue to silence women, diminish and ridicule them and mansplain their own trauma to them.

So here is a step by step guide on how to conduct interviews on women-related-or any topic in the world, or with a woman if you’re a male journalist:

  1. Let her talk. This is something she has more knowledge about than you have.
  2. Do not proceed to blame her clothes, her behavior, whether she was using tiktok or outside with her family. Women have been in public places with their family members and have worn burkhas and have been harassed. Women have also worn chadar’s on their heads, been accompanied by their husbands or brothers and yet are harassed in their homes as well. Clothes have nothing to do with rape or harassment, but it’s the mindset that needs to be changed.
  3. Do not touch her or crowd over her, especially if she is a survivor of harassment.
  4. Do not hide your performative activism by calling the men who did this “monsters” or “animals”. Men who are rapists and harassers are products of a society they are born into, and learn how to treat women from the way their culture shows them. Therefore call out the root of the problem: the misogynist society that tells men to act this way.
  5. Please do not, under any circumstances call a woman a “bachi”! She’s a grown woman with her own mindset and opinions and respect her for that!
  6. Instead of sending a man who has no knowledge about the ethics and the type of questions not to ask a survivor of harassment, send a woman who has the training to do so. If you’re someone who has previously created a large platform by making vlogs where you have insulted Aurat March and its participants, your greed and performative activism is clearly visible.
  7. Stop pointing out that women are our sisters and mothers, so hence they deserve respect. Women do not need to be related to you or on respectable positions in order to deemed to be respected. Every person is entitled to be treated with dignity because they are human beings!

Instead of focusing on male journalists who force themselves into the conversation with the intention of further victim blaming and silencing women, let’s shift the focus away from them and rely more to listening to women who are playing their part in demanding better laws to make public spaces more secure for women. Maria Memon, a journalist on GNN here schooled a male anchor by pointing out that even in countries abroad like Dubai, women can walk around freely wearing whatever they wanted without the fear of getting harassed or assaulted because the law in those countries sided with survivors and made sure that harassers and rapists were held accountable for their actions.