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April 7, 2021

Remarks about causes of rape: Lawyers, rights bodies seek PM’s apology

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April 7, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and women rights forums Tuesday condemned the remarks made recently by Prime Minister Imran Khan on the causes of sexual violence and rape, terming them ‘factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous’.

In a statement, the Human Right Commission of Pakistan said it was appalled by Prime Minister Imran Khan's remarks linking the incidence of rape to obscenity. "This is an unacceptable behaviour on the part of a public leader," said the body in a statement.

"Not only does this betray a baffling ignorance of where, why and how rape occurs, it also lays the blame on rape survivors, who, as the government must know, can range from young children to victims of honour crimes."

"We demand an immediate apology and renewed commitment on the government's part to tackling rape as it should — as an act of violence, of power," the statement added.

In their statements, different women rights forums said through his recent statement and others made prior to it, the prime minister 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 traumatizing and silencing the 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, they said. They demanded that the prime minister apologise and desist from making such statements in future, which had an adverse impact on all survivors of sexual violence.

They said rape was never the fault of the victim or survivor and it rested solely with the rapist and the system that enabled the rapist, including a culture fostered by statements such as those made by the prime minister.

They urged the prime minister to read the judgments by the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan to develop an understanding of the issue of rape and sexual assault. The Women Action Forums of Hyderabad, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, War Against Rape, Karachi, Pakistan Bar Council’s Journalist Defence Committee, War Against Rape Lahore, Tehreek-e-Niswaan, Aurat March Lahore, Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell, Institution for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA, and Defence of Human Rights were prominent among those organizations which agitated against the prime minister’s statement.