People from human rights groups in Pakistan have accused Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, of being a “rape apologist.” The head of government stated that the increase in the number of sexual attacks results, among other things, from the way women dress.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan instructed women to cover themselves in a two-hour television interview to prevent temptation. “In any society where vulgarity prevails, it leads to consequences,” he said. Moments after he condemned crimes against women and children, he added that sexual violence was the result of “increasing obscenity.”
Imran Khan said women in Pakistan should give up “temptation” because “not everyone is strong-willed”. The prime minister recommended that women follow the purdah principle, which includes wearing modest clothes among men.
Last year, the head of the Pakistani government was criticized for similar words in another television interview in which he did not criticize a Muslim clergyman for blaming women for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many human rights organizations in Pakistan have expressed opposition to the prime minister’s words. As they emphasize, the Prime Minister’s words “are factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous”, as well as “actively favoring the promotion of a culture of rape”.
“Such statements have an impact on the subsequent traumatization and silence of victims of sexual violence by blaming them instead of the perpetrators of the crime and the system that supports the rapists” – they emphasize.
“A large part of society prefers to blame the victims”
Journalist Zahid Hussain of one of the largest Pakistani dailies “Dawn” wrote that “Imran Khan’s words do not differ much from the views expressed a year ago by the Lahore police chief about the gang of highway rapists.” “His comments reflected the thinking of a large part of society who prefer to blame the victims,” he added.
Gang rape is a common example of increasing sexual violence in Pakistan – Husain’s comment concerns the September 2020 case. A woman with two children was counting on help with a car on the highway near Lahore. Instead, two men broke into a car, robbed a woman, and raped her in front of the children.
Lahore Police Chief Umer Sheik in a TV interview wondered why the woman did not choose a busier road or did not check her fuel condition. The case sparked massive protests and resulted in changes to Pakistani law – the introduction of a register of sexually abusers, protection of the identity of rape victims, and the legalization of chemical castration of some rapists.
Main photo source: T. MUGHAL / PAP / EPA