If you live in Bangladesh and have picked up your phone over the last couple of days, chances are that you are already familiar with the viral assault incident caught on camera where a mob of strangers came together to fight one of the greatest ills in our society – exposed shoulders.
Marzia Akter aka Saima, was the woman who allegedly initiated the scuffle and assaulted a female student at Narsingdi Railway Station recently over her clothes. The aggressor along with her two lackeys were waiting at Narsingdi station for a Dhaka-bound train on 18 May. The attackers were offended by how much skin the victim was showing and their collective response was to try to tear her clothes off her body. Bangalee logic is truly undefeated.
The same people who act all offended by indecency are not above hurling insults at complete strangers and physical violence; one cannot help but wonder how they even clamber down from their high horses to rub shoulders with filthy liberals like the rest of us.
A video of the incident has been proliferating across social media from the morning of 19 May. This has thankfully sparked backlash and protests from women's rights organisations, which rightfully demanded the attackers be brought to justice. Enter Facebook, trolls and a few women with so much internalised misogyny that radiologists simply refuse to see them.
No matter which news organisations post you go to regarding this incident, you will see the same whataboutism opinions and religious fruitcake hand-wringing that have absolutely nothing to do with the chain of events, facts or even the law.
The comments with the most likes are the ones that read "She did nothing wrong" and "Based Queen ''(online slang for you go girl!) which is overwhelmingly written by newly pubescent edgelords. What else could you possibly expect from illustrious names like Ni Ni who according to his profile is a CEO at Student?
All the negative comments are from fake accounts; all supportive comments are from people's main accounts. Threats of 'Kopaye dibo' are everywhere for people just saying that the law should be administered correctly and any attempt at discourse gets blown off course with whataboutism arguments about other cases.
According to the online masses, since similar perpetrators have gotten off scot free previously, this injustice must also be allowed to pass.
Let's leave aside the online masses for a second, the vast majority of them still live with their mothers, and the only woman they respect is out of fear.
There seems to be a deeper rot within our cultural psyche. These are the same people who watch scantily clad Bollywood actresses' item numbers with their entire family; the cognitive dissonance is mind boggling.
Why is it okay to have exposed midriffs in our culture and not exposed shoulders, both are showing skin? It is simply an inherent abhorrence of western culture. "This isn't Europe where you can walk around naked," said a female commenter.
My real question is who raised these people? How have we failed our children and cultural values so hard? I blame segregationist practices, I blame a complete and utter lack of sexual education in our schools and mostly, I blame the parents who have failed their children so hard by not teaching them how individuals are to be treated.
We have been taught to judge people based solely on their appearances from an early age, and we carry that into hot and humid summers as adults, where smelling bad and being perpetually covered in a film of your own sweat is fine as long as your ankles are not exposed.
To those anonymous commenters, you lot went through the trouble to make fake Facebook accounts so you can spew out your hatred and vitriol without any repercussions, I would urge any of you to comment using your actual profiles. Show us that your spine is just as long as your tongue!
As for the women who are taking the perpetrators' side, tearing her down will not give you a higher position. You people are a discredit to your gender and humanity at large.
There is a poem by Martin Niemöller, a prominent foe of Adolf Hitler, that journalists are quite fond of quoting:
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
In our particular culture boys are beyond help unless they grow up and de-programme themselves from their misogynistic world views. Women however, who are actively calling for the arrest of the victim and 'slut-shaming' her online, they will come for you too one day, and on that day, no one will be left to speak for you.
If we as a culture cannot come to the consensus for individualistic agency and freedom, we will never move forward as a country.