Through history, protests have always altered national narratives. They are the illustration of a public that can still imagine a better way, and that is moved, or hurt deeply enough to stand up for itself. In many ways, protests reflect the failures of the state, but in equal measure they are the reflections also, of a living society. Whether it is a mass movement, a great march, or a small private protest; the exercising of this right, is something to be proud of. Earlier this week in Layyah, Southern Punjab, a thirteen year old girl and her mother caged themselves outside the district press club to protest the release of her rapists from jail.

This protest highlights two profound things. First, that peaceful protests transcend age, education and background. This is a deeply moving and imaginative remonstration. It is perceptive and dignified despite the indignity and repeated injustice afforded to the young girl. It is a brand of heroism we don’t see often enough in this country, amidst the usual images of enraged protesters burning buses, tyres and burger joints. It is the kind of protest that inspires solidarity, and it must be recognized by the media. Which brings us to the second point. Protests of this nature can only be effective if the media plays its due part. In recognition of this, the choice of venue is important. The girl and her mother put themselves in a cage outside a press club, not a government building. They sit silently inside, behind bars, with the belief that in all the ways the state has failed to hear them, the media will. We must hear them. We must see them. In a culture that blames rape victims, that suppresses their stories and believes they have been tarnished, dishonoured and ruined, it is heroic to make oneself seen. This is one more case of the powerful getting away with it, and perhaps, with the power of this protest, we, the media and the people, can tilt the balance and hold somebody to account.