Pakistan: Outrage as PM Imran Khan blames women for rise in rape cases
Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan has caused outrage after his comments linking the rise in rape cases to how women dress. Pakistani women activists and rights campaigners have accused the PM of “baffling ignorance” after his comments.
Imran Khan – who was educated at Oxford – said in a live TV interview that the increase in rapes indicated the “consequences in any society where vulgarity is on the rise”.
“The incidents of rape of women … [have] actually very rapidly increased in society,” he said.
His advice to women was to cover up to prevent temptation.
“This entire 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 dress or the segregation of the sexes.
Hundreds have signed a statement calling Khan’s comments “factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous”.
“Fault rests solely with the rapist and the system that enables the rapist, including a culture fostered by statements such as those made by [Khan],” the statement said.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent rights watchdog, said it was “appalled” by the comments.
“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.
Pakistan is still a deeply conservative country. It is not uncommon that victims of sexual abuse are viewed with suspicion and criminal complaints are rarely investigated seriously.
Much of the country lives under an “honour” code where women who bring “shame” on the family can be subjected to violence or murder.
Pakistan ‘worse place for gender equality’
It regularly ranks among the worst places in the world for gender equality.
Last year, Pakistan saw nationwide protests when a police chief admonished a gang-rape victim for driving at night without a male companion. The Franco-Pakistani mother was assaulted in front of her children on the side of a motorway after her car ran out of fuel.
PM Imran Khan was criticised last year after another TV appearance where he failed to challenge a Muslim leader’s insistence that COVID had been unleashed because of the wrongdoings of women.
This latest controversy comes as the organisers of International Women’s Day marches after fighting what they call a coordinated disinformation campaign against them, including doctored images and videos online.
It has led to blasphemy accusations – a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan where allegations have previously led mobs to attack people.
The organisers of the annual rally have called for PM Imran Khan to intervene.
In his weekend TV appearance, Khan also blamed divorce rates in Britain on the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” culture that began in the 1970s, when the twice-divorced Khan was gaining a reputation in London as a “playboy”.
Pakistan rape statistics
Pakistan rape statistics show that 11 rapes are reported in the country each day, which is thought to be only a fraction of the total, Geo News reported.
Of the 22,000 rapes reported in Pakistan in the last six years, just 77 people have been convicted as a result – a rate of 0.3 per cent which ranks among the lowest in the world.
In February, the forensics department of Khyber Medical College University caused outrage when it suggested that women should be charged for post-rape examinations that help secure convictions.
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