Crime & Justice

Pakistan’s defense minister faces outrage over misogynistic remarks

By Amjad Ali

Islamabad, Aug 2 (EFE).- Alleged misogynistic comments by Defense Minister Khwaja Asif on the floor of the parliament have sparked a public outcry in Pakistan, where politicians often get away with such remarks.

Last week, Asif said female opposition leaders from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party were “trash and leftovers” of the party’s chairman, Imran Khan, drawing flak across the board.

Sharmila Faruqi, a female member of the Sindh provincial assembly, said that “men have a license to get away with sexism.”

Asif, 73, has been reprimanded earlier for making such remarks.

He body-shamed then-federal minister Sheerin Mazari, calling her a “tractor trolley” in 2016.

The PTI recalled that the minister and his party colleagues had used such “demeaning, derogatory, and sexist” language against women several times earlier.

“It is absolutely shameful how the defense minister resorts to such threatening language for women, attempting to depoliticize them,” PTI said in a post on the social media platform X, previously Twitter.

Mishi Khan, a film and TV actor, said she was saddened to hear such remarks by the minister.

“So disappointing to hear such words for women,” she said on X.

Parliamentarians from the opposition PTI and ruling coalition partners of Asif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N criticized him on social media.

Many newspapers reprimanded the minister.

Dawn, the largest English-language newspaper in the country, said in an editorial “Khawaja Asif, our indefensible defense minister, needs schooling on gender equality.”

Asif took to Twitter, saying his comments were “taken out of context” and that “calling someone ‘trash’ and ‘leftover’ is not gender-specific.” But the minister did not seek an apology.

It was not the first time a politician made sexist remarks publicly.

In 2021, then-Prime Minister Imran Khan faced the same kind of backlash after he blamed victims of rape for wearing “very few clothes.”

The cricketer-turned-politician, once labeled as a playboy, was asked in an interview about the ongoing “rape epidemic” in Pakistan.

“If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the man unless they are robots. It is a common sense,” Khan said.

More than a dozen women’s rights groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, released a statement demanding an apology from Khan.

Maryam Nawaz, a female politician and daughter of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said Khan was a “rape apologist” and that people who validated rape had the same mindset as the perpetrators.

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