Outcry in Pakistan After Imran Khan Links Rape to How Women Dress

Outcry in Pakistan After Imran Khan Links Rape to How Women Dress
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Outcry in Pakistan After Imran Khan Links Rape to How Women Dress

Outcry in Pakistan After Imran Khan Links Rape to How Women Dress

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An outcry has erupted in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed an increase in rape instances on how girls 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 in opposition to girls and kids. Mr. Khan acknowledged the seriousness of the issue and pointed to the nation’s strict legal guidelines in opposition to rape.

However, he mentioned, girls had to do their half.

“What’s the idea of purdah?” he mentioned, utilizing a time period that refers to the observe of seclusion, veiling or concealing gown for girls in some South Asian communities. “It’s to cease temptation. Not each man has willpower. In case you carry on growing vulgarity, it is going to have penalties.”

The uproar was swift.

The Human Rights Fee of Pakistan, an impartial group, demanded Mr. Khan apologize for his remarks, which it referred to as “unacceptable habits 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, nevertheless it additionally lays the blame on rape survivors,” the group mentioned.

Searching 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 in regards to the societal responses and the necessity to put our efforts collectively to eradicate the menace of rape utterly,” the workplace mentioned in the assertion. “Sadly, a part of his remark, consciously or unconsciously, has been distorted to imply one thing that he by no means meant.”

Mr. Khan’s authorities has confronted immense stress to velocity up justice for rape survivors after a sequence of assaults sparked calls for for the dying penalty to be utilized to such instances. In December, the federal government handed a measure that mentioned males convicted of rape may very well be sentenced to chemical castration.

There are few dependable statistics on rape in Pakistan, however rights activists say it’s a severely underreported crime, in half as a result of victims are sometimes handled as criminals or blamed for the assaults. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets final 12 months after a high police official in the japanese metropolis of Lahore mentioned {that a} girl who was raped on a abandoned freeway was partly to blame 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 girls’s clothes decisions each perpetuate rape tradition,” mentioned Laaleen Sukhera, a Lahore-based creator and public relations guide.

“Everybody and the whole lot 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 one publish. In one other, she mentioned that she hoped that Mr. Khan had been misquoted as a result of the person she knew had totally different opinions.

Earlier than he turned prime minister, Mr. Khan was a cricket star and A-list superstar who lower a glamorous determine and was generally known as a girls’ man. He married Ms. Goldsmith in 1995 they usually divorced in 2004. However he turned more and more conservative in the mid-Nineties after he entered politics, and has been accused of being overly sympathetic to the Taliban in latest years.

To girls’s rights activists, Mr. Khan’s feedback this week had been solely the most recent instance of the problem they face in discovering assist for his or her causes in the deeply conservative society. Organizers of ladies’s rights marches on Worldwide Women’s Day final month have mentioned they’ve been accused of “vulgarity” for looking for 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 in the digital area, even in their very own houses,” mentioned Ms. Sukhera, the creator in Lahore. “Regressive preaching prevents girls from reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs, and should be addressed.”

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