Pakistan’s Prime Minister Hyperlinks Rape to ‘Vulgarity’ and How Girls Costume

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An outcry has erupted in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed an increase in rape instances on how ladies dressed, remarks that activists denounced as perpetuating a tradition of sufferer blaming.

Mr. Khan made the feedback on a reside tv present earlier this week when he was requested what the federal government was doing to curb a rise in sexual violence towards ladies and kids. Mr. Khan acknowledged the seriousness of the issue and pointed to the nation’s strict legal guidelines towards rape.

However, he mentioned, ladies needed to do their half.

“What’s the idea of purdah?” he mentioned, utilizing a time period that refers back to the follow of seclusion, veiling or concealing costume for girls in some South Asian communities. “It’s to cease temptation. Not each man has willpower. For those who carry on growing vulgarity, it can have penalties.”

The uproar was swift.

The Human Rights Fee of Pakistan, an unbiased group, demanded Mr. Khan apologize for his remarks, which it referred to as “unacceptable conduct on the a part of a public chief.”

“Not solely does this betray a baffling ignorance of the place, why, and the way rape happens, however it additionally lays the blame on rape survivors,” the group mentioned.

Looking for to tamp down the anger, Mr. Khan’s workplace issued an announcement on Wednesday saying that the prime minister’s remarks had been misrepresented.

“The prime minister spoke concerning the societal responses and the necessity to put our efforts collectively to eradicate the menace of rape utterly,” the workplace mentioned within the assertion. “Sadly, a part of his remark, consciously or unconsciously, has been distorted to imply one thing that he by no means supposed.”

Mr. Khan’s authorities has confronted immense strain to hurry up justice for rape survivors after a sequence of assaults sparked calls for for the loss of life penalty to be utilized to such instances. In December, the federal government handed a measure that mentioned males convicted of rape might be sentenced to chemical castration.

There are few dependable statistics on rape in Pakistan, however rights activists say it’s a severely underreported crime, partly as a result of victims are sometimes treated as criminals or blamed for the assaults. 1000’s of protesters took to the streets final yr after a prime police official within the japanese metropolis of Lahore mentioned that a woman who was raped on a deserted highway was partly accountable for the assault.

To critics, Mr. Khan’s feedback this week bolstered misogynistic attitudes that made the issue worse for girls.

“Sufferer blaming and policing ladies’s clothes decisions each perpetuate rape tradition,” mentioned Laaleen Sukhera, a Lahore-based writer and public relations marketing consultant.

“Everybody and all the things appears to be blamed besides the precise perpetrators,” she mentioned.

Even Mr. Khan’s first spouse, Jemima Goldsmith, a rich British heiress, weighed in on Twitter. “The issue is not how women dress!” she wrote in a single publish. In one other, she mentioned that she hoped that Mr. Khan had been misquoted as a result of the person she knew had completely different opinions.

Earlier than he grew to become prime minister, Mr. Khan was a cricket star and A-list superstar who minimize a glamorous determine and was often called a girls’ man. He married Ms. Goldsmith in 1995 they usually divorced in 2004. However he grew to become more and more conservative within the mid-Nineties after he entered politics, and has been accused of being overly sympathetic to the Taliban lately.

To ladies’s rights activists, Mr. Khan’s feedback this week had been solely the newest instance of the problem they face find assist for his or her causes within the deeply conservative society. Organizers of girls’s rights marches on Worldwide Girls’s Day final month have mentioned they’ve been accused of “vulgarity” for in search of equal rights.

“It’s already tremendously difficult for girls of all ages in public areas in Pakistan, whether or not on the streets or at work or within the digital area, even in their very own properties,” mentioned Ms. Sukhera, the writer in Lahore. “Regressive preaching prevents ladies from reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs, and should be addressed.”

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