ISLAMABAD: The Women’s Action Forum (WAF) and other rights groups have taken exception to the prime minister’s remarks on the causes of sexual violence and rape, terming it factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous.
A statement signed by representatives of several rights organisations said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had actively fostered and promoted rape culture and rape apologia.
“In a country where the total reported cases of rape represent only the tip of the iceberg, such statements have the effect of further traumatising and silencing survivors of sexual violence by placing the blame on them, instead of on those who carry out the crime and the system that enables rapists,” the statement said.
Comments of this nature also disregarded the prevalent cases of sexual violence that seemed to have escaped the prime minister’s attention, including but not limited to the rape of minor girls as young as a few months old, sexual abuse of young boys, even in madressahs, and sexual abuse and violence within the confines of the home, perpetrated by family members, including “mehrams”, the statement said. “He (PM) also seems to be unaware of beastiality and necrophilia, cases of which have also been reported in Pakistan.”
The statement has been signed by representatives of several rights organisations, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, War Against Rape and Pakistan Bar Council’s Journalist Defence Committee.
It said that it was not the first time that Prime Minister Khan had issued such a statement and there was a discernable pattern in his statements, which revealed his regressive views on rape and sexual violence.
Such statements also called into question anti-rape initiatives undertaken by the government, including the introduction of anti-rape ordinances and the formation of a special committee to implement the laws, the statement said.
“Unfortunately, the timing of his statement makes the situation for women in this country even more precarious,” it said. “Taken together with the prime minister’s refusal to condemn false allegations of blasphemy against women organisers and activists of Aurat March, this statement reflects the apathy of the current set-up towards the plight of women, trans persons and non-binary persons.”
Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2021