Women journalists across Pakistan have slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan for his remarks that women's dress code is the real reason or motive for rape.
According to Dawn, an online conference titled 'From Attire to Desire', orgsed by Uks Research Centre here on Saturday had several women journalists, writers and academics of the country share their views on the issue of women's dress code and whether it is the real reason or motive for rape.
Senior journalist Nasim Zehra said that blaming the dress code for something as heinous as rape weakens the victim. "It puts the blame on the victim, and empowers the perpetrator," she said as quoted by Dawn.
"Suddenly, the focus moves from the perpetrator to the victim, her character and how she conducts herself and how she deserves what happens to her. And it is all linked to what she wears, making pardah a safety mechsm. It makes rape kosher. It diverts blame from the crime," she said.
Mehmal Sarfraz said that the hosts of several news channels picked up on what had been said about this by the prime minister to remind people that rape was not about lust or what one wore, but power. "But he has linked lust with everything under the sun. What was said was not that different from what the CCPO Lahore had said after the Motorway rape."
Prof Dr Sadia Mahmood, who teaches at the University of Karachi, spoke from her students' perspective.
"There are more than 70 per cent female students in my university and many of them wear the hijab. Some wear it because they use public transport for commuting. One day, I saw one of my students and didn't even recognise her without her hijab. She explained that she only dons the hijab while using public transport and that day when she was not all covered up she had been dropped to the university by her father," the professor said, as reported by Dawn.
Journalist Lubna Jerar said that female journalists, especially female news anchors and show hosts who have been there since Ziaul Haq's time, should speak up and motivate and empower others.
Earlier this month, Imran Khan blamed "fahashi" (vulgarity) for surge in rape and sexual violence instead of the deteriorating law and order situation in the country.
As he took calls from the people on Sunday, Khan -- when asked by a caller what the government plans to do in the light of rising incidents of rape and sexual violence, especially against children -- said that there are some fights that governments and legislation alone cannot win and that the society must join in the fight. He said it was important for societies to protect themselves against "fahashi" (vulgarity), reported Geo News.
The prime minister said incidents of rape and sexual violence that make their way to the media are just one per cent of the actual horrific crimes of such nature that take place.
Meanwhile, former secretary Women's Parliamentary Caucus Shaista Pervaiz Malik, MNA, said Prime Minister Khan needed to do some reality check and speak only after reviewing the bigger picture of our societal fabric.
Official statistics in Pakistan have revealed that at least 11 rape incidents are reported in the country every day, with over 22,000 cases reported to the police in the last six years.
However, only 77 of the accused have been convicted which comprises 0.3 per cent of the total figure, reported Geo News.
These statistics were obtained from the Police, Law, and Justice Commission of Pakistan, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Women's Foundation, and provincial welfare agencies.
Moreover, in February, in an insensitive move, the Forensics Department of Khyber Medical College University proposed a plan to charge rape victims Pakist Rs 25,000 for medical examination and Rs 5,000 for an autopsy for the local residents of Peshawar.
Women journalists and commentators in Pakistan have called out Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government over online attacks instigated against them by the government officials.
A tweet by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan last August said: "Women journalists say they are compelled to self-censor and refrain from engaging actively online, undermining public trust in journalism."
The tweet by Human Rights Commission was in response to tweet by a journalist which contained a joint statement issued by over 20 women journalists.
The joint statement said the target of these attacks are women with differing viewpoints and those whose reports have been critical of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's government, and more "specifically its handling of the coronavirus pandemic."
( With inputs from ANI )
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