A group of female lawyers released a statement on Monday registering protest against a recent remark made by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, where he had compared the length of a good speech to a woman’s skirt. They urged the CJP and senior lawyers to “choose their words with greater care in the future”.
During the speech made on January 13, 2018 in Karachi, the CJP had quoted former British prime minister Winston Churchill: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”
The Women Lawyers’ Association (WLA), that works for gender equality in Pakistan’s judicial system, expressed “disappointment” in the chief justice’s choice of words and called it a “a setback for women lawyers who practice in a male-dominated profession, as it is such statements that cause the alienation and marginalisation of women in the legal field”.
The statement, drafted by Jawziya Zaman and Eman Chamdia, lawyers that are part of the WLA was shared on social media by activists and journalists including Nighat Dad and Mosharraf Zaidi.
“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 statement reads.
It also criticises the CJP’s choice to quote Churchill who “saw the white race as superior, opposed the Indian independence movement, and did not believe women should have the right to vote”.
The statement urges the CJP as well as senior lawyers to “choose their words with greater care in the future”, in order to ensure that men and women are able to work “side by side as equal citizens” as per Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan.
Talking to Dawn.com, WLA’s representatives Sara Malkani said the group members are committed to removing gender bias and promoting equality in the legal profession.