Statement Condemning Character Assassination of Ayesha Gulalai

Karachi: All Pakistan Feminists’ Association is saddened to see the misogynistic tactics used to dismiss and invalidate Ayesha Gulalai on account of her levelling allegations of harassment against PTI Chief Imran Khan. While APFA acknowledges that the burden of proof lies on Ms. Gulalai and that Imran Khan has every right to ask for an investigation, bringing up her person, family, ethnicity, the way she dresses, her ‘looks’, claiming she is an opportunist, wishing she would have acid thrown at her, or should be raped are not only a fallacious argument but deeply shameful as well.

It is important to highlight that victims of harassment often take their time to speak out; especially when the harassers are in a position of power. The delay in calling out sexual harassment and standing up to the offender, hence, does not acquit the accused of the charges.

Having said this, let’s not ignore Ms. Gulalai’s misogynist statements in themselves, ones that are equally as problematic as the culture she is trying to oppose and hurt the cause of gender justice: frequent use of the word ‘ghairat’ in a positive way when speaking about harassment, glorifying regressive cultural laws in the name of ghairat, accusing Mr. Khan of promoting “western culture”, referring to women as someone’s ‘maayein’, ‘behnein’, and ‘betiyan’ and consequently stripping women of their identity as human beings and tying their worth to their relation with men.

All Pakistan Feminists’ Association maintains that a cry for help by victims of harassment should never be ignored and believes Gulalai’s allegations are serious that warrant investigation. APFA further requests parties to avoid using tactics that are patriarchal in nature.

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