Public attack on Pakistani TikTok star sparks outrage
A Pakistani social media influencer was assaulted by hundreds of men as she attempted to film Independence Day celebrations on August 14, prompting outrage from Pakistanis over the treatment of women.
TikToker Ayesha Akram was filming near the Minar-e-Pakistan monument when around 400 men approached Akram and started tearing her clothes off and beating her, with the abuse lasting from around 6:30 pm until 9 pm before she was rescued. Six of her friends were also assaulted.
The incident was filmed by several onlookers and shared on social media.
"I couldn't understand anything. The people were torturing and fondling me. There is no part of my body that isn’t covered with bruises," Akram said in an interview with a local web channel.
The social media influencer explained that at first men appeared as though they were trying to help her, but then joined in with the violence and abuse.
"If one person would let go of my clothes then another person would come and try to tear at them," she said.
Akram's jewellery was taken during the assault, as well as her friend's phone, money and identity card.
Local police in Lahore are trying to identify and locate the perpetrators using CCTV footage as well as videos filmed by witnesses.
"[Those] who violated the woman’s honour and harassed [her team] will be brought within the ambit of the law," said Lahore’s deputy inspector general of operations, Sajid Kiyani.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and provincial chief minister Usman Buzdar have been in contact with local police about the investigation.
PAKISTAN: Amnesty International is alarmed by the assault of a woman in Lahore in broad daylight on 14 August. At a time when the country is reeling from the murder of Noor Mukadam and Qurat ul Ain, this episode compounds the horror even more. #LahoreIncident [1/2]— Amnesty International South Asia (@amnestysasia) August 18, 2021
Outraged and upset by the footage on social media, Pakistani women shared their experiences of feeling unsafe in public spaces after news of the assault went viral.
One Twitter user said she carried a knife with her for protection and others expressed disbelief that the attack happened so openly and was committed by so many.
Fellow Pakistani social media influencer Nida Abbas wrote on Twitter: "A girl was groped, assaulted and harassed by 100s of men at Minar E Pakistan on Independence Day. But no one is talking about it. Welcome to Islamic Fucking Republic of Pakistan!!!"
Amnesty International expressed "alarm" that the assault happened "in broad daylight" on Twitter. The human rights organisation called on authorities to "hold perpetrators to account and provide greater protection for women in public spaces".
This incident follows the death of Noor Mukadam, a 27-year-old and daughter to a former ambassador of Pakistan, who was allegedly tortured and beheaded by the son of a business tycoon.
The gruesome murder sparked a nationwide campaign seeking justice for her, with #JusticeforNoor trending on Twitter.