Kerala Excise Commissioner Rishi Raj Singh has been in the news for quite a while, especially after his controversial comment against staring at girls. The officer, who had said that those who stare a girl for more than 14 seconds could be put in jail, got trolled mercilessly on social media although a section of people agreed with him.
Now, a Pakistan newspaper has come up in support of Singh. In an article in popular daily the Dawn, Rafia Zakaria, an attorney, calls Singh's remarks interesting and almost revolutionary.
"Pakistan is also a country of staring men. Any Pakistani woman, young or old, rich or poor, has her staring stories—tales of men who stare at women in buses, at school, restaurants, banks, work and in parks. All of them will tell you that there is no corner of Pakistan that is not populated by men who stare," she says.
Zakaria maintains that staring at women was the glue that binds the male species of the subcontinent together. “They may disagree on politics, be at each other’s throats over religion, stab and shoot at the provocations of sectarianism or the particulars of ethnicity, but they all believe in staring, everywhere and always,” she says in her article.
The article further points out that feminist social theorists and philosophers have long pointed out how the ‘male gaze’ serves to intimidate and discipline women.
“It’s not a revolutionary thesis; its implications in the Pakistani context and in many other parts of the Muslim world have meant a very literal disciplining, shoving women out of the public sphere into the private one, its crude and pathetic logic insisting that if there are no women to stare at, men will not stare,” Zakaria says.
Referring to Singh's “14 seconds” comment, she says if the men who indulge in it want to understand how insulting, intrusive and lecherous it is to maintain a largely unwanted eye contact for this period, they all should request another man to stare at them for just that period.”