Imran’s remarks on journalist Gharida Farooqi invite scorn

Published October 19, 2022
PTI Chief Imran Khan speaks to a delegation from the National Press Club (NPC) and the Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy: Twitter
PTI Chief Imran Khan speaks to a delegation from the National Press Club (NPC) and the Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy: Twitter

Journalists and politicians criticised former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan after he allegedly stated that journalist Gharida Farooqi was asking to be harassed online as she was “invading male-dominated spaces”.

According to The News International, the PTI chairman made the remarks while speaking to a delegation from the National Press Club (NPC) and the Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) in the federal capital during which he was questioned about female journalists being harassed at the party’s rallies.

The report quoted Imran as saying he would issue special instructions for his supporters in this regard but also said of Farooqi: “If she would invade male-dominated spaces, then she is bound to be harassed.”

Regarding social media trolls, Imran said that he cannot stop them as they were not under anyone’s control, the report added.

Speaking to Dawn.com, NPC Vice President Nazir Charan confirmed Imran’s remarks, saying: “Imran was asked about women and some anchors being harassed at his rallies and was called on to take action.”

Imran said he would try but this is the era of social media, Charan said. “If someone willingly goes towards a crowd of men, like Gharida, and says she was [harassed] then it is the same as saying aa bail mujhe maar (inviting trouble),” Charan quoted Imran as saying.

Journalist Anwar Raza quoted Imran as saying: “Gharida grabs the mic and forces her way through men which makes it equivalent to aa bail mujhe maar. Tell me what can I do in such a situation.”

Imran’s remarks were widely condemned, with journalists standing up in Farooqi’s defence.

“More power to all of our female colleagues. Some of them have gone through a lot … over the past few years,” said DawnNewsTV’s Adil Shahzeb as he told Farooqi to “stay strong”.

Geo’s Benazir Shah said Imran’s statement should “concern us all”.

“A former prime minister of Pakistan, whose previous tenure saw unprecedented attacks against women journalists on social media, strongly believes that women journalists should not report and that women should not be in public spaces,” she said.

Journalist Zebunnisa Burki shared a news package of Imran’s remarks, saying: “And this too will be defended. Shame. Truly salute women journalists in this country for continuing to work amid such misogyny.”

Journalist Munizae Jahangir called it a “disgusting statement from a leader who is supported by so many women voters” and called it “incitement to violence”.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also took exception to Imran’s remarks, stating not even national interests, institutions and martyrs were safe from the PTI chief’s “slander campaign”.

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