In a letter written to Chief Justice (CJP) Saqib Nisar, the Women's Action Forum's (WAF) Karachi chapter has called for the CJP to issue a public apology for a recent speech in which he, quoting British politician Winston Churchill, compared a "good speech" to "the length of a woman's skirt."
During the speech, made on January 13, 2018 in Karachi, the CJP had quoted the former British prime minister. saying: "A good speech should be like a woman's skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest."
The letter from the WAF admonishes the CJP for the remark, noting that the quote "reveals deep-rooted sexism and double standards women are held to which discourage women from joining the legal profession."
It highlights the "rampant sexism" faced by female lawyers which keep them away from the courts and says that the absence of women judges in the Supreme Court "proves the fact that women face extraordinary challenges in this profession."
"Statements that dehumanise and objectify women are not only derogatory and demeaning towards women but also contribute to the victim-blaming culture which is the biggest impediment in fighting crimes committed against women."
The letter says that the WAF agrees with the Women Lawyers' Association stating that the CJP's usage of women's bodies "to illustrate a point is a setback for women professionals."
The letter also asks the CJP to recognise sexism in the legal profession and take steps to provide a "harassment-free environment for women".
WAF, formed during General Ziaul Haq's martial law regime, is a group struggling for women's rights in the country.