Rape is not a joke — and it is certainly not a tool to navigate political discourse. A video of PPP politician Nabil Gabol’s inane remarks about rape have resurfaced and shaken up Twitter. In the video, he used the example of rape to talk about being overpowered by the opposition and said some seriously disturbing things like “when rape is imminent, just enjoy it”.
Human rights activist and lawyer Nighat Dad, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, author Fatima Bhutto and artist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took to Twitter to voice their disgust, calling the rhetoric “repulsive” and “sick”.
The PPP has yet to address Gabol’s remarks.
On Monday, Dad shared the clip on Twitter captioned, “Deeply troubling and unacceptable for politicians like Nabil Gabol to make light of rape. Such behavior is not only insensitive and offensive but also perpetuates harmful and dangerous attitudes towards sexual violence.”
The video is from The Pakistan Experience, a podcast interview by Shehzad Ghias shared on January 2. In it, the duo delves into many subtopics under Pakistani politics. In a section labelled ‘Discussing MQM’, the host asks, “Isn’t this also an issue — we badmouth politicians but turn them into an asset when we’re in need. When we don’t need them anymore, operations against them start the way we saw in Musharraf’s time, for a long while, the people who were excused were the same ones who had operations conducted against them. No one raised their voice or protested.”
In response, Gabol said he would like to use an example that is a saying in English. “When rape is imminent, just enjoy it,” he said. Ghias told him there was no such saying but the politician insisted that there was.
“If you do not have any other option but to take it, if you have the power to bear it then just enjoy it,” he continued. “But if you have honour, then stand up against it. We have borne this which is why they use us. How? Just think that someone is forcing themselves on you, okay this is happening but you should at least stand up front of them and raise your voice. The most they can do is put you in jail.”
“It is imperative for political parties that politicians who hold positions of power and influence are held to the highest standards of accountability and responsibility for their words and actions. This guy has already said disgusting things in two interviews,” Dad said, attaching a clip from another interview.
In an old podcast with Nadir Ali, he makes some deeply misogynistic and troubling statements, saying he can ‘take’ whatever woman he likes. “You Karachiites keep your desire in your hearts and expel your emotions in the bathroom. We don’t keep our feelings in our hearts, whoever we like, we will take. If I like her, she’s mine,” he said.
“The use of rape as a punchline or a casual reference is abhorrent and has no place in political civilised discourse,” added Dad. “It is a blatant display of disrespect towards the survivors of sexual violence and undermines efforts to combat this heinous crime.”
Senator Anny Marri distanced his opinions from their party’s and said there is no place for misogyny in PPP.
Bakhtawar echoed Marri’s words and wrote, “His (repulsive) rhetoric belongs to his individual only and is in no way a representation of our party. In case it wasn’t already abundantly obvious — we absolutely and unequivocally stand for the rights and protection of women.”
Fatima called his words “utter filth” and said, “Nabil Gabol exposes the absolute criminal mindset of Sindh’s government. He has done nothing for Lyari, for the people he supposedly represents and laughs while talking of such violence. Horrendous.”
Zulfikar also emphasised on the issues Pakistan is facing and wrote, “This makes me sick. The multiple levels of violence. Sixteen people have died in food stampedes, our environment is collapsing, IMF is not letting us go. Whatever type of r*pe you’re talking about — no one should bare it and justice should always follow.”
Twitter users want the politician to be held accountable for what he said.
These senseless rape jokes need to end — rape is a serious offence that leaves the victim forever scarred. To fling it around so carelessly in conversation is simply unacceptable.
Bakhtawar, Fatima Bhutto slam Nabil Gabol’s rape analogy to explain political discourse