PM Imran receives flak for linking “fahashi” with rising rape cases

“Rapist’s control their urges when they’ve feared retribution, accountability & conviction” tweeted Jibran Nasir

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal

Sub-Editor
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Trigger Warning: Victim Blaming, Rape

PM Imran Khan held a live interview on Sunday and attended calls from citizens and among them a called requested him to elaborate the government’s plans to tackle the rising rates of rape and sexual violence, especially against children.

The PM responded to this by arguing that the problem behind the rising rates of rape and violence was fahashi (vulgarity) which could only be cured through the observance of pardah:

“If you will indulge in vulgarity then it will bring an impact over our society…not everyone has the power to resist temptation. This is why the purdah is so important.”

Then the Prime Minister further went on to criticize western societies like Britain where he said there are widespread cases of sex, drugs and rock n roll, as well blamed the rising popularity of films from Hollywood and Bollywood for being the cause behind the vulgarity spreading in our society.

We need to talk about this whole concept of vulgarity and whether it is true that only the pardah is responsible for lowering the rise of rape and abuse in our society. Activists and journalists on Twitter expressed outrage at the Prime Minister’s claims of rape being the cause of lack of ‘pardah’ (modesty), and have already dismantled this belief by calling it a dangerous myth. Activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir addressed the PM on Twitter to point out why his response to the rape crisis was poorly handled, it was because it perpetuated a dangerous myth that lays the blame entirely of the incident on the victim:

Aurat March had also addressed the PM’s remark through tackling the word “fahashi” and how it used in a way to silence victims of harassment and rape from challenging the patriarchy. In a video posted on their Twitter account, they pointed out that words like “vulgar“, “awaragard” have often been used to police women’s bodies and silence any new ideas that might upset the status quo. They also pointed out that words like “vulgar” are often thrown at television shows that attempt to explore cases like child abuse and rape, and often stifles any attempt to explore the dark side of our society like the PEMRA case sent to the show “Dil Na Umeed Tou Nahi” which explored the issue of child prostitution.

Furthermore, journalists like Shahzeb Khanzada dedicated a segment of their show around tackling the dangerous narrative “rape can be tackled by wearing the pardah” on his show ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada ke sath”. He pointed out that the belief that “women who are more careful and dressed properly were less likely to be raped” was in fact false. A study done by the Bureau of Justice in USA showed that more than 35 per cent rape crimes were committed in the victim’s home, office or in nearby places of their homes or offices. Also, he addressed the myth regarding “women’s dresses or behaviors can attract rapists” by explaining that saying that an attractive woman deserves to be raped is like saying that every wealthy man deserves to be robbed.