Canadian model and humanitarian worker Assma Gulata registered a case on Tuesday against two suspects for alleged sexual harassment and infringement of her rights.
She shared that she was in Bahria Town Phase 7 when two men in a car began “harassing me, telling me to get into the car”.
“When I told them to leave me alone, they started laughing. They blocked me from getting into my Uber and then followed my Uber from Bahria Town to Islamabad, trying to block the driver and even asking the driver for my drop-off location,” she stated.
Because they were following her, she said, she had to change her drop-off location and hide in a nearby mall until she thought they had gone. “Then I went to my AirBnB,” she said, adding that she had their vehicle details and a video of them as proof.
Assma, who’s been living in Pakistan for the past five months has now released a video explaining what happened and says she was victim-blamed after the incident even though she was dressed ‘modestly’ in a long sleeved kurta and long pants. It’s unfortunate that she has to even mention these details because we all know, sexual harassment or assault has nothing to do with what you are or aren’t wearing
And Gulata reiterates that: “It’s not just about me or my kids, it’s about all my sisters, all these stories I hear from women who were sexually harassed or abused by men and it goes unreported because then they blame the woman. ‘Why were you travelling alone?’ ‘Why were you not with a man?’ ‘Why was your hair not covered?’ I’m sorry but I’ve had friends and followers, who were performing Umrah and Hajj, fully covered, wearing a loose abaya and they still got sexually harassed. Clearly, it’s the men we need to hold accountable.”
In a refreshing move, Gulata also acknowledges her privilege, sharing she knows that her voice was heard because she’s an expat while many local women are silenced.
“When I shared this on social media, some followers told me that if I really wanted to push a report with the police, I’d have to go to the police station, which was an hour away and I would have to bribe them. I’m not going to bribe anyone to do their job, I’m sorry, no. Rather than writing a tabloid with a girl’s face for a little gossip column, why aren’t we discussing the issues people are suffering from in Pakistan?” she said.
“And why do I care about this so much? I’ve married a Pakistani, I live here, it is my home. And if I’m going to be living here for a long time, my kids will be Pakistani and it will also be their home so I want the country to be safe for them as I want it to be safe for me and my sisters.”
In the video, Gulata minces no words, also calling out the rampant government corruption in the country. You can watch the full clip here