ISLAMABAD, Sept 16: Outrage mounted in Pakistan and abroad on Friday over President Pervez Musharraf’s comment that many Pakistanis felt that crying rape was an easy way to make money and move to Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has already condemned the remarks made by President Musharraf.
Amnesty International said the Pakistani leader should apologise, and newspapers back home decried their leader’s attitude.
“You must understand the environment in Pakistan ... This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped,” President Musharraf told the Washington Post in an interview.
In Karachi, nearly 100 women demonstrated outside the local press club and demanded an apology. “He must withdraw his remarks if he really thinks he is a liberal and a moderate,” Women Action Forum activist Nuzhat Shireen said at the protest.
An alliance of eight non-governmental organisations said Musharraf’s statement was a “sheer insult and utter humiliation of the entire nation.”
The Civil Society Alliance for Protection of Human Rights based in Peshawar said Musharraf was trying to “cover up the state’s persistent failure to address root causes of the increasing human rights violations.”
Amnesty International said it was outraged at the remarks by Musharraf.
“This callous and insulting statement requires a public apology from President Musharraf to the women of Pakistan and especially to victims of rape, sexual assault and other forms of violence,” the group said in a statement.
“His statement is an offence to women all over the world.”
Musharraf, according to media reports, told a news conference in New York on Thursday that he had been expressing a commonly held opinion rather than his own.
Earlier, Canada’s Martin said he had raised the matter with the Pakistani leader during a meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
“I stated unequivocally that comments such as that are not acceptable and that violence against women is also a blight that besmirches all humanity,” Martin told a news conference.
Mukhtaran Mai said she was pained by Musharraf’s comments in the United States.
“Nobody does it intentionally. A large number of women are molested and insulted in the country. How many of them have made money?” she asked. “Such thinking about women is not good.” —Agencies