Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday said he was sorry in case anyone was hurt by his recent remark where he had compared the length of a good speech to a woman’s skirt.
During the hearing of a case regarding taxation today, the country’s top judge said: “I am apologetic if I hurt anyone’s sentiments. That was not my intention. My ‘skirt’ remark was only referencing a quote by British politician Winston Churchill.”
Explaining that hurting anyone was not his intention, Justice Nisar said “women comprise half our population”, adding that social media users were “trying to create an issue” out of his statement when there was none.
Justice Nisar had made the remark during a speech on January 13, 2018 in Karachi, saying: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”
The remarks drew criticism on social media, as well as from the Women Lawyers’ Association and the Women Action Forum.
CJP’s use of Churchill’s quote ‘reveals deep-rooted sexism’
The WLA called the remark “a setback for women lawyers who practice in a male-dominated profession”, adding that such statements cause “the alienation and marginalisation of women in the legal field”.
“Given the global conversation today about the impact of discrimination on women’s lives, ranging from casual sexism in the workplace to sexual assault, the statement is particularly tone-deaf, tasteless, and unbecoming of the chief justice of any country,” the WLA statement said.
WAF in its statement had admonished the CJP, noting that the quote “reveals deep-rooted sexism and double standards women are held to which discourage women from joining the legal profession.”
“Statements that dehumanise and objectify women are not only derogatory and demeaning towards women but also contribute to the victim-blaming culture which is the biggest impediment in fighting crimes committed against women,” the WAF statement said.
The WLA asked the CJP to choose his words more carefully, while the WAF called on the CJP to issue a public apology.