ISLAMABAD: Human rights activists and civil society representatives gathered outside the National Press Club to protest Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statements blaming “vulgarity” in society for rape and sexual violence.
Protesters criticized the prime minister for what they called “victim blaming” and called for an apology for comments he made during a public question and answer session when he was asked to suggest a solution to the country’s growing case of child abuse.
The protesters held placards and banners reading their apology and said such statements would encourage rapists.
“It can be taken as an opinion when ordinary people say things like that but if a prime minister makes a comment like that it becomes a policy statement. We cannot ignore statements that impose such crimes on the way women dress. That’s a dangerous statement for women like us who work in offices, fields and factories, ”said one protester.
Speaking to the media, Tahira Abdullah said he was angry with the PM’s remarks because he was asked about the increase in child abuse cases, but in response, he began to blame the increase in vulgarity and a lack of ‘Pardah’ among women for such incidents. “If this is the reason why women, animals and children who died were raped in our society,” he asked.
He demanded the PM to take back his words and apologize from the nation.
Meanwhile, former secretary of the Women’s Parliament of the Caucus Shaista Pervaiz Malik, MNA, said Prime Minister Imran Khan needed to do a reality check and speak out only after reviewing the bigger picture of the fabric of our society.
In an open letter to the prime minister, he said, “Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks linking female grooming with sexual violence have sent ripples across the region. Unfortunately, his remarks have perpetuated the existing negative mindset, rather than alleviating the problem. This justifies the vulnerability of women and girls instead of giving them respect and protection, ”the statement added.
“We, women, deeply regret that we often find ourselves accepting inherent double standards, prevailing ignorance, and vague perceptions and myths that are ingrained in our society. All bad events in society, as a result, are traced and blamed on women as the root cause. This mindset has come out clearly as a striking example of PM Imran Khan’s recent statement that speaks volumes about his personal point of view on the issue. “
Shaista Malik advised the prime minister to “read aloud and clearly that women and girls are vulnerable when inside the four walls and also in full Purdah! They are the most vulnerable targets for sexual violence, based solely on their gender! Otherwise, how would you describe a baby girl aged four or six months who was abused, raped and murdered? “
Shaista Malik asked the prime minister how he could forget that the protection and safety of all his citizens is one of the main responsibilities of the state, and that he, as the head of the elected government, must carry out his responsibilities with due diligence.
The PM’s office on Wednesday clarified that the PM’s statement had been taken out of context. “The prime minister said that strict anti-rape laws alone would not be able to stem the rise of sex crimes. The whole community must strive together, including reducing the exposure to temptation, “said a statement issued by the office.