The latest viral sensation in Pakistan? Rape

The latest viral sensation in Pakistan? Rape

In Punjab, it is no longer enough to gang rape a girl; it is also necessary to make a video of it. And what good is that visual record, if it is not shared with the world?

The men of Pakistan await, their fingers eagerly pressing buttons and sliding over screens, goaded by insatiable appetites that crave the violation of a woman's body.

They watch it again and again, they share it with friends.

For them, there is no shame in the consumption of rape, no evil in its dissemination, no cruelty in its continued propagation.

This is not a hypothesis, but a truth. A recent report by the BBC reveals exactly why.

Sadia, a young girl living in a village in rural Pakistan, was gang raped by a number of men. (Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.)

They made a video of the rape and then shared it via Bluetooth and various cellphone-enabled social media. It went viral. Thousands of Pakistanis clicked on it, watched it and, yes, even shared it far and wide.

Making a video of a gang rape, watching a video of a gang rape, sharing a video of a gang rape, comes at no moral cost in Pakistan.

Our vigilant censors, who demonstrate such alacrity in imposing other bans, have none for this crime.

The video in question continues to be available on the Internet, both for viewing and sharing, its consumers unafraid and unashamed to participate, in this viral desecration of a young woman.

Sadia's story is far from unique. The armchair rapists who consume these videos have much else from which to choose.

Facebook pages and other forms of social media continue to propagate and promote videos of sexual attacks on young girls.

Those who make them wish to shame the girls, exploit them not simply in person but again and again by spreading the material.

It is an effective strategy; there are millions of leering, lascivious and lecherous men awaiting their product, eager to do their part, watch rape, share rape and ultimately commit rape.

In a country where a woman can still be prosecuted for fornication and adultery or for filing a rape complaint, the innocent, the correct and the moral are always men, even if they are rapists.

A law was passed just last week criminalising the "character assassination" of rape victims. However, the absence of any political or judicial will to punish men who share video of sexual attacks online responsible for that action means the new law is unlikely to deter the practice.

In a country where men flaunt their piety, caressing their beards and hustling to mosques, sharing rape videos carries no moral sanction.

Under the glare of the media, Sadia's gang rapists have been caught and authorities have vowed they will be punished. And maybe they will be - if the case remains in the public spotlight.

If not, in the typical fashion of Pakistani rape cases, bribes will be paid, judges cajoled, appeals heard, and the men will go free to rape again.

As for Sadia's "other rapists" - the men who watch, share and gleefully, shamelessly consume such videos - they will go completely unpunished, for if there was any shame at all in sharing a gang-rape video then few would do so.

Pakistani masculinity, which prides itself on the upholding of personal honour, sees no dishonour in this complicity, no tragedy in this form of exploitation.

In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, clicking on rape is not a crime, and so every man with a phone can partake of the violation of a Pakistani woman, endorsing and encouraging her destruction, without fear, without remorse and without accountability.

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