Home > Uncategorized > UNINFORMED INFORMATION ADVISOR? I am not aware of any conventions regarding not naming rape survivors: Sharmila Farooqui

UNINFORMED INFORMATION ADVISOR? I am not aware of any conventions regarding not naming rape survivors: Sharmila Farooqui


UNINFORMED INFORMATION ADVISOR?

I am not aware of any conventions regarding not naming rape survivors: Sharmila Farooqui

By Urooj Zia (Pakistan Today, 22 December 2010)

KARACHI: Advisor to the Sindh Chief Minister on Information and Archives Sharmila Farooqui is apparently rather uninformed when it comes to rules regarding what can and cannot be disclosed regarding rape cases and survivors.

Not only did she repeatedly name on Monday the survivor of a gang-rape from Clifton, she did so again during a conversation on Tuesday with Pakistan Today — on the premise that she was “not aware of any conventions regarding not naming rape survivors”.

Farooqui also laid the blame squarely at the doorsteps of media personnel covering the case. “Well, the media should not have broadcast the survivors’ names,” she claimed. “I did not pass on any new information regarding the survivor’s private life. I got to the police station at 8 p.m. to meet the women; by that time, a lot of information had already gone out. After I met the women, reporters who were waiting to talk to me, asked me questions about details that were already known. I only confirmed what they said. You should speak to the Citizen-Police Liaison Cell (CPLC) chief and the police officers concerned, who had already given these details out to the media.”

Eyewitnesses to Farooqui’s conversation on Monday with media personnel at the Darakhshan Police Station had also said that the CM’s advisor passed judgemental remarks against the survivor, calling her ‘hyper’ and ‘rude’. “One female reporter was insisting on going inside and talking to the survivor. I told her that the survivor was very hyper and unwilling to speak to the media,” Farooqui claimed. “I cannot comment on the case anymore because it is currently being investigated.”

Her remarks, meanwhile, have caused a furore in several quarters, with many referring to her statements as “irresponsible” and tantamount to feeding into the popular “she asked for it” narrative that dogs rape survivors in Pakistan.

Journalist and activist Sana Saleem published on Tuesday an ‘open letter’ calling the CM’s advisor and the media out on the ‘callousness that was displayed while dealing with the case’. “We are particularly appalled by your statements in front of the media regarding [the survivor],” Saleem wrote. “It is a great ordeal and matter of huge courage for a woman to even report such crimes. Being a woman yourself, how can you make statements that would raise suspicions against a woman who has been violated? How can you not be careful while dealing with such a sensitive issue? For you and everyone else who is party to mishandling the case, this is what we have to say: nothing can justify rape, violence or abuse. Every single piece of information regarding the survivor’s lifestyle choices is irrelevant; raising suspicions on the basis of allegedly conflicting statements only hours after the case has been reported is irrelevant and damaging’ and remarking at the way the survivor was behaving by calling her ‘rude’ is not only insensitive but also makes a mockery of her state of mind.”

“We ask you to retract your statements and issue a public apology for the irreparable damage that they have caused. Moral policing of rape survivors is equivalent to advocating the heinous crime. We hope that you will be more responsible with your statements in future regarding sensitive issues such as these and would rethink the damage that your current statements have caused. Until then we stand in protest to every factor that has damaged this case and forced the survivor to withdraw,” Saleem said.

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