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"Akeli aurat zemadari hai mauqa nahi!"

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

TW : Rape and Victim- Blaming.

I recently watched a Pakistani short film called "Ab Bus" starring Sanam Saeed, directed by Mohsin Talat. This film was released after the motorway gang rape and gives a strong message to people that women in Pakistan are not safe.

Sanam Saeed plays the role of Maya, a girl who receives a mysterious phone call and starts packing knives, guns, and tasers etc. Anyone watching this scene would automatically think that she was just informed about the location of a person she would like to hurt. It looks like she knows what she is doing and has done this before a few times. However, that is not the case. At the end of the film the fact that she is preparing to visit her father who had a heart attack is revealed. This very detail, the fact that she had to make all these preparations for a 380km journey alone shook me. This is the reality for every woman in Pakistan.

Another thing that caught my attention was that while preparing for this trip she paints her face dark and covers herself with shawls hoping that might make her less attractive and she might have less chances of becoming a victim. Does the way she dresses up really play a role in her becoming a victim to rape or harassment? That's not really the case though is it? Women get raped when wearing a burqa and also when wearing a t-shirt with pants. The issue is that this argument is vile. They take away the freedom of women to be themselves' without having to fear being punished for it by being blamed for their own rape.

~Mariam Khalid

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I have not watched this film but I am definitely watching it tonight. It is so sad that even before leaving our house we have think about stuff like is our dressing appropriate? are we revealing skin? Rape has nothing to do with this but yet women are the ones that have limitations put on them and live in constant fear that a man will force himself on her. Sad reality of not only our country but the entire world.


Momina Moazam
Momina Moazam
Nov 30, 2020

I haven't seen the movie yet but I absolutely agree with you on the part about how changing her appearance would've had virtually no effect. The director should've been more cautious especially since it's a movie that deals with the topic of rape and this just seems like a reiteration of the claim that women and their clothing preferences are the cause of rape. Plus the implications of showing chaddars and dark skin as being unattractive or the "safer" option is a whole other can of worms.


While reading this I couldn’t help but be reminded of the concept behind packing knives, looking unappealing, and trying to passively ward off the perpetrator is that no matter what happens, it shouldn’t be me. Plus it’s so sad to see women who don’t become victims and survivors, considering themselves lucky, which goes to show the state of our society, and the status of women in society. To make matters worse, victim blaming from women’s closest friends and relatives, as well as the justice system that demands evidence for the incident, results in deteriorating mental health and emotional wounds that don’t heal till long after the physical ones do. I’m glad that the industry is using its influence to shed…


Another point that you mentioned that I felt was very important is that the cinematography and the intense music and everything makes it seem like it's a thriller film rather than a point about something as serious as rape. The extreme dramatization seemed really disrespectful to me.


Such a good analysis!! It's very important that within a country like pakistan which already has a prevalent rape culture, the idea being perpetuated is that rape is due to the clothing of a woman and this enables us to victim blame even more so than before. This sort of activism does more harm than good!!

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