Pakistani workers from NGOs perform during an anti-rape protest in Lahore on September 14, 2013. Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images
Reading up on the horrific news about the rape of a 5 year old girl in Lahore, Pakistan, I came across this really interesting photograph at the top of an article. Having spent the earlier half of my life in Pakistan, I have seen many rallies about different issues, many of which lead to destruction of other people’s private properties, burning and looting of shops, breaking car windows and burning effigies or tires on main roads.
This is the first time I have seen an element of creative theatrical performance as a way to protest physical and sexual violence against women and girls. I think part of the reason is that people in that region are very much tired of seeing violence in daily lives, and so they adopt more and more peaceful means of protesting. Another more interesting part is that the demographics of politically engaged people are changing. Unlike 10-12 years ago, more urban, middle and upper class youth are becoming politically and socially active now.
I believe that is a good sign, because it means a whole generation of people that was perviously detached from social and political change is now engaged. There is more pressure on the old structures, politicians, political parties and rulers to listen to younger (and fresher) perspectives. It means that there is hope for change, and perhaps a more peaceful future.