The list of reasons why women in Pakistan do not feel safe was already distressingly long. To add the cherry on top, Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed ‘fahashi’ [obscenity] for the rise in sexual crime against women and children in the country. Our very own leader, and last resort to save the law and order from further deteriorating rather threw the victims of sexual violence under the bus with his unsolicited victim-blaming.
During a telethon where members of the public were invited to ask him questions, PM’s response to one caller was appalling. At first, he denounced crimes against women and children. But the explanation that followed entirely dismissed a serious issue currently faced by the country.
The premier called sexual violence a product of ‘obscenity’. More so, he described this obscenity as a Western and an Indian import. Not only did he link the pervasiveness of obscene behavior to sexual crimes but also implied that these can somehow be ‘prevented’ if women observe ‘purdah’.
To quote his exact words, ‘purdah would lessen the temptation of those who lack willpower.’ Resorting to the rampant victim-blaming culture, our PM framed the narrative of sexual violence in a way that places the responsibility of doing more on women.
If this is what the holder of the country’s highest office, who is responsible for the protection of citizens (which include women), believes then who can women turn to? PM’s views on this subject are shockingly insensitive and even harmful to the women’s movement in the country.
Pakistanis call out the PM for his ignorance
Old habits rarely die. Just as he has done in the past, PM chose to blame others for the failures that have hit the country. He did not make any reassuring remarks about the efforts by his government to look into the problems of people. Instead, he blamed the lack of ‘modesty’ and refrained from making any promises for the protection of women and children in the country.
Manifesting victim-blaming in a telethon with the people of the nation is not only deeply disturbing but also concerning. The premier endorsed the mentality of equating rape with a lack of modesty. Should the government not protect women regardless of their choices?
PM should not forget that women in the west that he blames for vulgarity and high divorce rates have more freedom and better protection than women in Pakistan.
PM’s attitude is unacceptable. Did he learn nothing from the public outrage over Lahore CCPO’s problematic victim-blaming statement on the motorway gang-rape case? A safe return home every day should not be an achievement for a woman. Period.
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