Far too often, in Pakistan and elsewhere, women are blamed for the harassment and violence they suffer because of their clothes, despite the overwhelming evidence that men, not skirts, are responsible.
No woman of any age color character ever deserves to be sexually violated or what some might lightly call ‘eve-teased’. There is no such thing as ‘asking for it’.
‘I never ask for it’ is a campaign against normalization of women’s sexual harassment held by a Bengaluru-based group in India who is collecting and displaying garments that women were wearing at the time they were sexually harassed or assaulted.
Jasmeen Patheja, in India, is out to prove with evidence that this is not the case. She collects clothes donated by victims of sexual assault for exhibit as part of her campaign, ‘ I never asked for it”.
As she wades through the rack, the point is apparent: Much of the dresses that victims were wearing were ordinary looking and simple. Clothes ranged from simple school dresses, to gowns, tunics and a swimsuit. It represented the fact that all women in all walks of life face physical harassment regardless of their age or occupation.
Yet there continue to be those who argue that women share the blame because of their choice of outfit, and not just in India.
Besides deflecting blame from those who deserve it, these beliefs can lead women to falsely thinking they’re at fault. “If you’re constantly being told and raised as a girl to be careful, when you experience violence the link usually is, ‘Maybe you weren’t being careful enough,’” Patheja explains. “Blame is internalized.”
The clothes in “I Never Ask For It” are a visible symbol of this process.