time Monday Feb 06 2023

Imran defends his remarks on female journalist’s harassment

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan during an interview. — APP/File
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan during an interview. — APP/File
  • Statement about female journalist not taken out of context, says Khan.
  • Men are to be blamed if they do anything, he says.
  • We have brilliant women journalists doing great job, says Khan.

KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that his statement regarding journalist Gharidah Farooqi was not taken out of context and that in a society like Pakistan's, "if you put yourself in that position, you are going to be vulnerable".

The former premier was talking in an interview with The New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner published on Sunday, February 5, titled 'Imran Khan's Double Game'.

During the Zoom interview, which covered wide issues from Afghan Taliban and Pakistan's support of the PTI and its relations with the establishment to Imran Khan's views on women's education, the former premier was also asked about his comment regarding Gharidah Farooqi.

While in a response to the question — "Was it taken out of context that you said, about the journalist Gharida Farooqi, who was harassed at a PTI event: what does she expect if she, a journalist, forces her way or goes into male spaces?" — Imran responded with: "No. No. No. It wasn't out of context".

The PTI Chairman explained that "it was just in one particular rally where they were all men, and she was right in the middle of this male crowd... anyone who knows Pakistani society, or most sorts of societies like India or Pakistan — if you put yourself in that position, you are going to be vulnerable. It’s just common sense".

Agreeing that men were to be blamed "if they do anything" he stated: "But also it works two ways... in our society, normally, people would avoid putting themselves in that position. It's as simple as that". 

Answering the question regarding how this could be applied to a woman who's a journalist trying to cover a story, Khan said: "We have brilliant women journalists in this country. They are doing a great job. But they don't have to put themselves in positions..."

While he expressed a universality about basic political rights, in social spaces women are treated, whether girls are educated, etc, he did not remain as universal. The PTI chairman chose to respond with an explainer on arranged marriage and the boundaries of Western journalism: "Sometimes the problem with Western journalism is that they go into our countries and expect that it should be exactly what it is like in your country." 

"It’s not like that. Let me just make you understand something. In Pakistan, by far the bulk of marriages are arranged. And arranged marriages are between families. So it's not a question in this country of going to a nightclub or discos or whatever and girl meets boy. The families put the marriages together. And also the reputation of families matters here. So, when the families are looking to propose, they always look at the reputation of the family and the girl or the boy", he added.

Regarding his previous statements on how if a woman wears very few clothes, it will 'have an impact on the man unless they're robots', Imran Khan told the interviewer: "How can anyone blame women for rape? ...The rapist is always to be blamed... In the case of a woman getting raped, she's marked for life. But even worse is when children get abused; that stays with them for the rest of their life."

"The ideas that came forward were, one, that we must bring down the level of temptation in our society because you have a lot of frustrated people", he remarked.

The former prime minister said, on being asked further on how to bring down the temptation: Temptation is social media. On our mobile phones children now have access to information. But, at the same time, the level of pornographic stuff on a mobile phone, which is available to children of seven and eight years old — never in human history have children been exposed to that."

Originally published in The News