ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An outcry has erupted in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed an increase in rape circumstances on how girls dressed, remarks that activists denounced as perpetuating a tradition of sufferer blaming.
Mr. Khan made the feedback on a dwell 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 youngsters. Mr. Khan acknowledged the seriousness of the issue and pointed to the nation’s strict legal guidelines in opposition to rape.
However, he stated, girls needed to do their half.
“What’s the idea of purdah?” he stated, 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. When you carry on growing vulgarity, it’s going to have penalties.”
The uproar was swift.
The Human Rights Fee of Pakistan, an unbiased group, demanded Mr. Khan apologize for his remarks, which it known 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 stated.
Looking for to tamp down the anger, Mr. Khan’s workplace issued a press release 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 get rid of the menace of rape fully,” the workplace stated within 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 hurry up justice for rape survivors after a collection of assaults sparked calls for for the demise penalty to be utilized to such circumstances. In December, the federal government handed a measure that stated 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, partially 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 jap metropolis of Lahore stated that a woman who was raped on a deserted highway was partly responsible for the assault.
To critics, Mr. Khan’s feedback this week strengthened misogynistic attitudes that made the issue worse for girls.
“Sufferer blaming and policing girls’s clothes decisions each perpetuate rape tradition,” stated Laaleen Sukhera, a Lahore-based creator and public relations guide.
“Everybody and all the things appears to be blamed besides the precise perpetrators,” she stated.
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 put up. In one other, she stated that she hoped that Mr. Khan had been misquoted as a result of the person she knew had totally different opinions.
Earlier than he grew to become prime minister, Mr. Khan was a cricket star and A-list celeb who minimize a glamorous determine and was often known as 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-1990s after he entered politics, and has been accused of being overly sympathetic to the Taliban lately.
To girls’s rights activists, Mr. Khan’s feedback this week have been solely the newest instance of the problem they face to find help for his or her causes within the deeply conservative society. Organizers of girls’s rights marches on Worldwide Ladies’s Day final month have stated 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 house, even in their very own properties,” stated Ms. Sukhera, the creator in Lahore. “Regressive preaching prevents girls from reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs, and should be addressed.”