File image: Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan drew outrage after his comments on rape and blamed how some women dress, advising them to 'cover-up' to avoid it.
In a O&A session with the public on live television, a caller asked what the government is doing about a rise in sexual violence in the country particularly against children.
Answering it, Khan said, “The incidents of rape of women … [have] actually very rapidly increased in society.”
He further added, "World history tells when you increase fahashi (vulgarity) in society, two things happen: sex crimes increase and the family system breaks down."
He also advised women to cover up to prevent temptation.
He said, "This entire concept of purdah (covering up or segregating) is to avoid temptation, not everyone has the willpower to avoid it."
After his remarks, women and gender rights activists slammed his statement for linking rape to women’s clothing.
Khan's former wife and British filmmaker Jemima Goldsmith too expressed her shock at his statements. She went on to quote a verse [24:30] from the Quran: “Say to the believing ‘men’ that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well aware of what they do.”
“The onus is on men,” she added.
Goldsmith also hoped that the statement that Khan made was a “misquote/mistranslation”.
She said, “The Imran I knew used to say, ‘Put a veil on the man’s eyes not on the woman.’”
Not just this, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent rights watchdog, on April 6 said that it was “appalled” by the leaders statements.
“Not only does this betray a baffling ignorance of where, why and how rape occurs, but it also lays the blame on rape survivors, who, as the government must know, can range from young children to victims of honour crimes,” it said.
The Women's Action Forum - Karachi Chapter too called on the Oxford-educated Khan to apologise for his remarks.
The group wrote, “Rape is perpetrated by rapists and it’s culture is strengthened by rape apologists. Imran Khan must apologise for this callous and damaging remarks and desist from blaming the victims.”
His comments have sparked outrage, and hundreds of people have signed a statement demanding an apology from Khan for his regressive views. The signatories said that prime minister’s comments were “factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous”.
"In demanding an apology from the Prime Minister, we take this opportunity to remind him that rape is never the fault of the victim or survivor. Fault rests solely with the rapist and the system that enables the rapist, including a culture fostered by statements such as those made by him.
"We would also urge the Prime Minister to read the judgments by the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan to develop an understanding on the issue of rape and sexual assault (which is gender neutral and covers different forms). In fact, we would strongly recommend that the Prime Minister take some time out to read reports by organisations that work with rape survivors," the statement read.
At least 11 rape cases are reported in Pakistan every day, the BBC has reported
. Nearly over 22,000 rape cases were reported to police across the country in the past six years, however, only 77 accused have been convicted which is only 0.3 percent of the total figure.