Karachi: A Pakistani woman lawmaker threatened to self-immolate in the Sindh assembly after a provincial minister passed sexist remarks, inviting her to his private chamber, an incident which highlighted the position of women in the country.
Nusrat Sahar Abbasi, who belongs to the Muslim League Functional party, created an uproar in the assembly after provincial minister for works and home, Imdad Patafi, misbehaved with her on the floor of the house last week.
The furore over the issue finally came to an end on Monday when Abbasi ‘forgave’ Patafi in the name of ‘tradition’.
In the incident which highlighted the position of women in Pakistan’s feudal community, Patafi invited Abbasi to visit his private chambers so that he could give a “satisfactory reply” to questions she had asked on the assembly floor.
Another lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party was also captured on camera making snide remarks about the female
The lawmakers behaviour caused a storm on the social media and on television channels and was seen as sexist and
harassment of women.
Patafi had to face the criticism even from PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his sister Bakhtawar Zardari, who
directed their lawmaker to apologise to Abbasi.
Abbasi came to the session on Monday with a bottle of petrol, threatening self-immolation unless Pitafi was sacked.
To finally bury the hatchet, Patafi draped a traditional shawl over Abbasi’s head and apologised to her over his behaviour.
But on Wednesday, Abbasi again complained to speaker Shehla Raza that she was not being allowed to speak her mind on a point of order.
“I want to highlight the fact that in the Sindh assembly female lawmakers are not being given their due place and rights,” she said.
“What happened last week and the way I was treated it only highlighted our problems. I only accepted the apology because
of the traditional shawl,” she said.
Abbasi, who belongs to the opposition, said she would have carried out her threat of self immolation in front of the assembly if Bilawal and Bakhtawar had not intervened.
“The media saw everything and they also saw Patafis remarks as sexual harassment. The deputy speaker was also not willing to listen to me,” she said.
The incident caused widespread embarrassment to PPP which was headed by slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Abbasi said though the incident was over but the government needed to review further laws governing women’s rights and protection.
“Before me also there has been an incident in this assembly and also in the national assembly where sexist remarks were made by fellow lawmakers and they later apologised,” she said.
Abbasi said the government needs to quickly enforce the laws as women face discrimination in Pakistan’s conservative society.