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.
But, he stated, girls had to do their half.
“What is the concept of purdah?” he stated, utilizing a time period that refers to the apply of seclusion, veiling or concealing gown for ladies in some South Asian communities. “It is to stop temptation. Not every man has willpower. If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences.”
The uproar was swift.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an unbiased group, demanded Mr. Khan apologize for his remarks, which it known as “unacceptable behavior on the part of a public leader.”
“Not only does this betray a baffling ignorance of where, why, and how rape occurs, but it also lays the blame on rape survivors,” the group stated.
Seeking 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 about the societal responses and the need to put our efforts together to eliminate the menace of rape completely,” the workplace stated within the assertion. “Unfortunately, part of his comment, consciously or unconsciously, has been distorted to mean something that he never intended.”
Mr. Khan’s authorities has confronted immense strain to pace up justice for rape survivors after a collection 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 stated males convicted of rape could possibly 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. Thousands 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 to blame for the assault.
To critics, Mr. Khan’s feedback this week bolstered misogynistic attitudes that made the issue worse for ladies.
“Victim blaming and policing women’s clothing choices both perpetuate rape culture,” stated Laaleen Sukhera, a Lahore-based writer and public relations marketing consultant.
“Everyone and everything seems to be blamed except the actual perpetrators,” she stated.
Even Mr. Khan’s first spouse, Jemima Goldsmith, a rich British heiress, weighed in on Twitter. “The problem is not how women dress!” she wrote in a single submit. 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.
Before he turned prime minister, Mr. Khan was a cricket star and A-list celeb who reduce a glamorous determine and was generally known as a girls’ man. He married Ms. Goldsmith in 1995 and they divorced in 2004. But he turned 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 most recent instance of the problem they face find help for his or her causes within the deeply conservative society. Organizers of ladies’s rights marches on International Women’s Day final month have stated they’ve been accused of “vulgarity” for searching for equal rights.
“It’s already tremendously challenging for women of all ages in public spaces in Pakistan, whether on the streets or at work or in the digital space, even in their own homes,” stated Ms. Sukhera, the writer in Lahore. “Regressive preaching prevents women from reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs, and must be addressed.”