22 February 2023
The Federal Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada while speaking on the F9 rape incident during a television interview faced criticism after making remarks about sexual assault survivors, going so far as to victim-shame women who went to parks.
In an interview on DAWN news with journalist Nadir Guramani, the Federal Minister for Human Rights spoke about possible measures that could be taken to prevent incidents such as the F9 park rape.
He said: “Foremost the important thing is how one is brought up. A good upbringing especially good mothers should raise their children properly and teach them to stay within their limits by not allowing girls to go to parks at night”. He then went further noting that “even boys get mugged so everyone should be cautious because criminals are always out and about”.
He then noted that this was the situation in Pakistan either because people enjoyed doing it or because their animal instincts took over them – or perhaps due to poverty. The Minister then advised that “to avoid such incidents people should protect themselves, the way they should protect themselves while driving”.
FM Riaz Pirzada in response to a question on measures that can be taken to prevent F9 park rape incidents said that “people have to protect themselves from such incidents,the way they say you should protect yourselves while driving”. pic.twitter.com/EvdCxgLjn8
— Nadir Guramani (@nguramani) February 19, 2023
The Human Rights Minister sparked much uproar among civil society activists who viewed the statement as victim-shaming. AGHS Legal Aid Cell also criticized the remarks stating that such statements “reinforce the grave ill of victim-blaming and further stigmatizing survivors of sexual assault. It is vital to remember that rape and sexual assault are criminal offences and that the only person to blame for such heinous crimes is the perpetrators, not the survivors”.
The recent remark by the Federal Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Pirzada on the F9 park rape incident reinforces the grave ill of victim-blaming and further stigmatizing survivors of sexual assault.
The only person to blame is the perpetrators of rape, not the survivors! pic.twitter.com/VN1mkiZP38
— AGHS Legal Aid Cell, Asma Jahangir's Law Firm (@Asma_Jahangir) February 21, 2023
Other Twitter users also criticized the Minister’s remark with one user stating that “it is further victimization of rape survivors that hampers cases… as self-guilt is injected into the victim”
The shocking incident occurred in Islamabad on Feb 2 when two armed men approached the victim at a park in F-9, who was there with her male colleague. The aggressors took the two to a nearby thicket at gunpoint and separated them and proceeded to beat up the woman before raping her. The victim, when she tried to raise her voice, was beaten and threatened by the attackers who said they would call their “friends” to join them. The incident shook the nation as the crime took place in the capital at a well-known park.
The two culprits were later killed by the police during their arrest which itself caused further controversy due to the nature of the extra-judicial killing and the fact that the rape survivor would not be able to receive justice in the courts.
Violence against women continues to rise in the country and so the response of the criminal justice system and lawmakers has become all the more important in combating sexual and gender-based violence and rape.