Pakistan's prime minister links rape to how women dress
Pakistani rights activists have accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of "confusing ignorance" after the former cricketer linked the way women dress for an increase in rape cases. In a weekend interview on live television, the Oxford-educated Khan said an increase in rape shows "the consequences in any society where vulgarity increases".
In this file photo dated March 16, 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview in Islamabad, Pakistan. / Credit: B.K. Bangash / AP
"The cases of rape of women ... (have) actually increased very rapidly in society," he said.
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He advised women to cover up to avoid temptation.
"This whole concept of Purdah is to avoid temptation. Not everyone has the willpower to avoid it," he said, using a term that can refer to modest clothing or the separation of the sexes.
Hundreds have signed a statement that was circulated online on Wednesday describing Khan's comments as "factually inaccurate, insensitive and dangerous".
"The fault lies entirely with the rapist and the system that empowers the rapist, including a culture encouraged by statements like (Khan)," the statement said.
The Pakistani Human Rights Commission, an independent rights watchdog, said Tuesday the comments were "appalled".
"Not only does this reveal a startling ignorance of where, why, and how rape takes place, but it also blames rape survivors, which the government must know can range from young children to victims of honor crimes," it said .
The Karachi chapter of the Women's Action Forum called on Khan to apologize for his "calloused and harmful remarks".
Pakistan is a deeply conservative country, where victims of sexual abuse are often viewed with suspicion and criminal complaints are seldom seriously investigated.
Much of the country lives under a "code of honor" according to which women who "shame" the family can face violence or murder.
It regularly ranks among the worst places in the world for gender equality.
National protests broke out last year when a police chief warned a rape victim not to drive at night without a male companion. The Franco-Pakistani mother was attacked in front of her children on a highway after her car ran out of gas.
Following this incident, Khan demanded that rapists be publicly hanged or castrated for their crimes.
Last year, Khan was also criticized after another television appearance in which he did not question a Muslim cleric's claim that the coronavirus was released because of women's wrongdoing.
The latest controversy stems from the organizers of International Women's Day marches fighting a so-called coordinated disinformation campaign against them, including doctoral pictures and videos posted online.
It has led to allegations of blasphemy - an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where allegations previously resulted in mobs attacking people.
The organizers of the annual rally have asked the Prime Minister to intervene.
In his weekend TV appearance, Khan also blamed UK divorce rates for the "sex, drugs and rock and roll" culture that began in the 1970s when the twice-divorced Khan gained a reputation as a playboy in London .
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