No sympathy for victims

Timing would be ironic if the subject matter were not so abhorrent and despicable

June 22, 2021

The timing would be ironic if the subject matter were not so abhorrent and despicable. Just days after the nation was rocked by its latest incidence of sexual violence – which despite all outcry, seems to never end – the PM has added fuel to controversy by some outdated remarks of his own. In an interview with journalist Jonathan Swan on Axios on HBO, Imran Khan, like several of our other political leaders before him, linked rape to how people dress. “If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on men unless they are robots. I mean it’s common sense,” he said. “If you raise temptation within society and all these young guys have nowhere to go, it has consequences.”

One wonders if the PM spent any thought on what emerged and caused much furor just days prior: footage of JUI-F leader Mufti Azizur Rehman sexually assaulting a youth. The victim in question was neither dressed ‘provocatively’ nor was he a woman, for those who still hold the notion that women are somehow responsible for rape. It should also be pointed out that the crime took place in what some would consider the most austere of settings: a madrasah in Lahore. Evidence has also come to light to suggest that it was not an isolated incident but just one in long pattern of sexual violence by the perpetrator.

What is particularly telling about how a certain segment of our society – which happens to include most of our leaders who in an ideal world would be held to better standards – is the silence that has followed for the most part. There exists in our culture an utter lack of sympathy it seems for the victims of certain crimes. Or even tragedies for that matter. It wasn’t too long ago that PTI’s Firdous Ashiq Awan said the Ghotki train accident, which killed at least 65, was “by the grace of Almighty Allah, the first train accident of 2021”. And then we wonder why there is little respect or sympathy among the rest of the world for the issues our leaders raise.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2021.

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