When will men learn to respect women in public spaces?

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal

Sub-Editor
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Trigger warning: harassment

Every woman has dealt with the brutal uncomfortableness that comes with occupying public spaces and how it gives men an opportunity to reduce us down to objects with the way they stare or attempt to grope us. Every woman has the right to occupy public spaces, whether she is walking down a street or even sitting at a park, without feeling intimidated or uncomfortable by the men surrounding her. It’s sad that even to this day, men have refused to respect a woman’s personal boundaries or consent.

Actress Mehwish Hayat raised this issue yesterday and pointed out how despite working hard and having raised awareness on the need for more women to occupy public spaces, men still have not understood that they are not entitled to groping or touching a woman without her consent. The actress shared a clip yesterday on her Instagram stories where she was seen standing next to an old man who tried to wrap his arm around her, but he was stopped by Mehwish Hayat’s body guard.

Entertainment figures have the right to seek personal boundaries like any other human does, and the onus does not fall on them to feed a man’s entitlement. Mehwish Hayat reminded her audience that men need to learn how to respect women and their personal boundaries when they are out in public:

“Shocked at how much liberty fans sometimes think they can take with artists. Wasn’t aware of this incident, but thank you @rehanhumfm for literally having my back. People should learn from you what being a true gentleman is all about.”

It’s not just this man, but all Pakistani men need a workshop on how to co-exist with women peacefully without making them feel intimidated with actions like these. It’s up to all of us to refuse the sexist myth that “boys will be boys” and start holding them accountable for their actions, so that more women may keep occupying public spaces without any fear or intimidation.