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Anger over 'sexist' reporting of women in Pakistan

Church leader condemns 'ignorant and unethical' commentary in Urdu-language newspaper

Anger over 'sexist' reporting of women in Pakistan

Christian women take part in the annual Aurat March in Karachi on March 8. (Photo: Kamran Chaudhry/UCA News)

Rights groups and journalist bodies in Pakistan have condemned a daily newspaper for publishing an abusive commentary about participants in an annual women’s march.

“Fourteen countries have the highest rape cases of women. The randies [whores] of Aurat March can’t see these non-Muslim countries,” stated the front-page article in Ummat, an Urdu-language newspaper in Karachi.

“Why don’t they abuse religions like Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism of the majority populations of these countries? Why does their voice rip apart while criticizing their teachings?”

Father Nasir William, director of the Commission for Social Communications in Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese, slammed the controversial commentary.

“It is unethical to use such words in media. They reflect personal enmity, ignorance and stupidity. There are other ways for criticism,” he told UCA News.

“However, the women are risking their dignity by protesting on roads and going against the male-dominant culture. Rights cannot be achieved on such platforms. We discourage nuns from protesting on roads. They are different from other women.”

Last month, a doctored video containing blasphemous chants went viral on social media, leading to calls for a complete ban on women’s marches and registration of blasphemy cases against the organizers and their supporters.

Among those who shared the edited video were social media activists and news anchors with millions of followers.

On March 26, a judge in the northern city of Peshawar ordered police to open an investigation into the organizers of a march marking International Women’s Day over allegations they committed blasphemy.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in an April 5 tweet, condemned “the use of unethical and inappropriate language” against women.

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“The newspaper must publish an unconditional apology and refrain from using such language in future. Such practices bring a bad name to the profession of journalism. The APNS (All Pakistan Newspapers Society) and CPNE (Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors) must take notice.”

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists termed it as being against the principles and ethics of journalism.

“Never in the history of Pakistani journalism have such words been used against any segment of society and it seems that the newspapers like daily Ummat are being used to fulfill the agenda of extremist elements who do not want to see women contributing to the development of society and the country as a whole,” it stated in an April 5 press release. 

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