Lahore CCPO Umar Sheikh Apologized For His Earlier Remarks But Is It Enough?

By Janita Tahir | 14 Sep, 2020

CCPO Umar Sheikh finally made an apology for his remarks

By now, the entire nation is aware of the horrific Lahore motorway gang rape case that occurred recently. With the case an important conversation around rape culture and victim blaming has also started after Lahore’s Chief City Police Officer Umar Sheikh chose to blame the victim for getting raped.


CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh said the rape victim herself should have been more careful and generated intense backlash 

When asked about the case, he said the mother of two children should have checked her petrol, should have taken another route, shouldn’t have driven alone, shouln’t have been outside late at night. It was deeply disheartening to see that he had a list of what the rape victim should and should not have done. When really, there was only one ‘should’ he needed to focus on: That, that woman, that mother, that human being should NOT have been raped. Period.


What angered many people was the fact that he went on to reiterated and stand by his extremely problematic words, calls were made for the CCPO Umar Sheikh to apologize

Despite his blatant victim blaming and the enormous backlash he received some people still argued that his comments were just ‘concerned observations’ said in a thoughtless manner. However, that proved not to be the case.

By saying “mujhay yeh batana hai kay society humari iss tarha ki hai”  he implied that women when going out need to always be careful because the possibility of rape is always right there. As if it’s something normal and we just need to deal with it. There’s no thirst for change, no regret. Just more words for caution for women in general.

Furthermore, he even let some of the victim’s personal information slip through which was a highly unprofessional act on his part. All of his actions portrayed the height of irresponsibility and depicted a callous mindset that is extremely dangerous for the women in Pakistan.


Now, the CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh just apologized for his words but is that enough?

Earlier today, the CCPO apologized to the victim and the people who were hurt by the incident and ‘misunderstanding’ on his part. It’s interesting to note that the two sentence apology didn’t even last half the time he spent blaming the victim.

It’s also interesting to note that the apology came at the tail end of huge backlash from the entire nation and several calls for his removal. It’s important to see that these callous remarks expose the century old belief that women victims are always the ones in the wrong. How can a few quick-spoken words of regret possibly erase those deep set notions in our society?


Many people are questioning the sincerity of Umar Sheikh’s apology

While, unbelievably so, many people have chosen to sympathize with the Officer, others remain steadfast in their effort to explain how this is not enough.

The reality of the situation is that victim blaming is not something we can let go with a good old slap on the wrist. Because if we are willing to let it slide just like that, it changes nothing.


People thought it absurd that a short apology could solve everything, especially when earlier he had tried to stand by his problematic stance

Umar Sheikh’s words are not just the thoughts of one person. They are a product of a society that has been quick to pass judgement on women even when they are the recipient of abuse.

His words echo a mindset that is deeply troubling. And his position of authority sets an example for normal citizens for what an acceptable reaction to a woman raped could be. The damage he has done cannot magically disappear just because he apologized under pressure.

If we want to see a change in this mindset, we need to make an example out of it. The message should be clear: victim blaming is not okay. Not for a person of influence and not for any average citizen.

If we as a nation accept this half hearted apology from someone whose first thought after being asked about a rape victim was not outrage, rather the calm observation of all the ways the victim was in the wrong, what example are we setting?

After all, if it all goes away with as little as a lousy apology, the matter must not be of that much importance, right? No. What we need is to demonstrate that we don’t stand for this behavior. What we need is a systemic change in our society and the police that is responsible for protecting us. We need officers in power that ‘care’. We need to educate our men to protect women. We need more women in all levels of the police force and not just as token hires. We need men to learn how to behave around, and with, women.

All this, so we can proudly say one day, mujhay yeh batana hai kay society humari iss tarha ki hai k larki jab bhe bahir akeli niklay, jese bhe niklay, jahan bhe nikle woh mehfooz hai.



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