ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – Outcry is heard in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan blames increased rape over women’s dress, a speech that activists condemn as a culture of blaming victims.
Khan commented on a live television program earlier this week when he was asked what the government was doing to curb an increase in sexual violence against women and children. Mr Khan acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and pointed to the country’s strict laws on rape.
But he said that women have to be involved.
“What is Purdah̵7;s idea?” He said, using a term referring to the act of solitude, hiding or concealing the dress of women in some South Asian communities. Not everyone has willpower. If you keep adding rudeness, it will have consequences. “
Chaos is fast.
The Pakistan Human Rights Commission, an independent group, called on Khan to apologize for his speech. “Unacceptable behavior on the part of public leaders”
“This is not only Rather, it is a betrayal of the confused ignorance of why and how rape occurs. It also blames rape survivors, ”the group said.
Khan’s office released a statement on Wednesday that the prime minister’s remarks had been distorted to ease his anger.
“The prime minister spoke of the social response and the need for concerted efforts to eradicate the threat of rape,” the office said in a statement. Unknowingly, it has been distorted to mean things he never intended. “
Mr Khan’s government faces tremendous pressure to accelerate the justice of rape survivors after a series of rape, prompting calls for the death penalty to be applied to such cases. In December, the government passed measures stating that men convicted of rape could be convicted of chemical castration.
There are few reliable statistics on rape in Pakistan. But rights activists say it is a severely underreported crime, in part because victims are often viewed as criminals or accused of assault. Thousands of protesters flocked to the streets last year after high-ranking police officers in the eastern city of Lahore said women raped on partly deserted highways were to blame for the attacks.
For critics, Mr Khan’s comment this week reinforces a dislike attitude that makes the problem worse for women.
“Victims of blaming and examining women’s clothing of their choice have given rise to a long rape culture,” said Laaleen Sukhera, a Lahore author and public relations consultant.
“Everyone and everything seems to be to blame except for the real culprit,” she said.
Even the first wife of British wealthy heir Khan Jamima Goldsmith weighed in on Twitter: “The problem isn’t how women dress!” She wrote in a single post. In other words, she said she hoped Mr Khan was wrongly asserted because men she knew had different opinions.
Prior to his tenure as Prime Minister, Khan was a figurehead of cricket and A-list celebrity with a glitzy figure and known as a lady. He married Miss Goldsmith in 1995 and divorced in 2004, but he became more conservative in the mid-1990s after he got into politics and was accused of being too sympathetic to the Taliban. In recent years
For feminist activists, Mr Khan’s comment this week is just the latest example of the challenges they face in finding deep support for their cause in a conservative society. Organizers of the International Women’s Rights march last month said they were accused of “rudeness” in pursuit of equal rights.
“It is a huge challenge for women of all ages in public spaces in Pakistan, whether they are on the street or at work or in the digital space, even in their own homes,” said Ms Sukhera, a Lahore-based author. This regression of preaching makes it impossible for women to restore their own righteousness and to be corrected. ”