June 25, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights has demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan offer a public apology over the troubling remarks linking women’s attire to the incidence of rape in society.
JAC – a platform of 37 civil society organizations – made the demand at a press conference on June 24 at the Lahore Press Club.
Speaking at the press conference, Irfan Mufti, convener of the committee, said the prime minister’s repeated statements against women brought were a disgrace to the Prime Minister’s Office and that the statement was an attempt to discredit men in the society. “The JAC demands that the prime minister offer a public apology and immediately resigns from his office,” Mufti told reporters.
The government’s anti-rape law monitoring committee should begin its gender sensitisation campaign with the prime minister, federal cabinet members and governement leaders, Muft said. “The instructions to police, judciary, and the public for gender sensitisation in cases of sexual violence appear meaningless in the wake of such insensitive statements,” Muft added.
Social activist Bushra Khaliq said the prime minister must understand that rape is an act of imposing one’s power on another human being and it has nothing to do with a lack of sexual control.
“Scores of incidents of sexual abuse of women, children, and transgender occur daily in the country but are not reported because of a lack of safe environment for survivors and victims,” she said.
“By his remarks, the prime minister has not only committed victim blaming but also hurt sentiments of sexual abuse survivors and their families,” Khaliq said.
Social activist Syeda Deep said a democratically-elected prime minister should not make anti-women statements like the former military ruler General Musharraf, citing the dictator’s remarks about rape victims highlight their cases to get immigration to western countries.
“The PM’s statement tarnished the country’s image internationally as well as insulted people in the country who do think like him,” she added.
According to the PM’s rationale, men in Pakistan commit rapes because they don’t have discos and night clubs to vent their sexual frustration and men who do not rape are robots,” she said.
According to Iram Kashif, the prime minister proved by his statement that he did not represent half of the country’s population which is made up of women.
“As mothers, daughters, and working women, we dress according to the occasion when we go outside. Who are you to tell us on how and what the women should wear in public,” she said.
The prime minister has said absolutely nothing about sexual abuse of minor boys and girls, forced conversion, and other injustices in society,” she added.
Social activist Farooq Tariq said that Imran Khan was pushing the country towards conservatism which was creating polarisation in the society.
“Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary has clearly stated that the ruling government wants to promote conservatism in society,” he said.
“The government is consciously polarising society into left and right wings. The way they are doing is dangerous as it is inciting violence in the country,” he said.
Mohammad Tehseen said it was disappointing that many women members of the ruling party had defended the prime minister. He said the remarks also reflect the class conflict in the society. “When the interviewer asked the prime minister about his image as a playboy as a young cricketer, Imran Khan said the issue was not about him but about the Pakistani society,” Tahseen said. He said it was shameful of the prime minister to call all men in Pakistani society robotic if they did not pounce upon women.
After the press conference, the Joint Action Committee also held a protest demonstration outside the press club. The JAC said their nationwide protests would continue until the prime minister rendered a public apology and resigned from his office.