Public figures should especially carefully consider the words they use in their speeches and statements, but every few weeks we are served a reminder that this is not the case.
A clip of President Arif Alvi in conversation with journalist Hamid Mir started doing the rounds on social media last night in which the president can be seen using a rape analogy to describe corruption.
With regards to a recent inquiry report on independent power producers (IPPs), President Alvi said that if the findings are to be believed, the nation has been subjected to rape: “My exact words were, forgive me for what I am about to say but what I said to PM Imran Khan was that the country has not only been raped but gang-raped by mafias."
The insensitive use of language did not go down well on Twitter, and for good reason.
It's 2020 and we still need to explain why it's not okay to equate the trauma of rape survivors to things like a tough exam or the state of the economy but here we are.
Why couldn't Dr. Alvi make his point without using the term rape? Rape is a powerful word, it is meant to elicit shock (especially in a society like ours that is prone to victim-blame) and everyone is aware of its devastating impact. Ironically enough, it's why some people continue to use it casually, not realising just how deeply distressing such language is for some.
When you try to draw such parallels, you are undermining and trivialising the suffering of real victims. Here's a tip: if you find yourself questioning whether the comparison you’re about to make with rape is acceptable, it most definitely isn’t. Because ultimately, no one understands what it’s like to experience sexual assault other than a survivor.
President Arif Alvi just equated the trauma of rape to corruption