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 stay tv present earlier this week when he was requested what the federal government was doing to curb a rise in sexual violence towards girls and kids. Mr. Khan acknowledged the seriousness of the issue and pointed to the nation’s strict legal guidelines towards rape.
However, he mentioned, girls needed to do their half.
“What’s the idea of purdah?” he mentioned, utilizing a time period that refers back to the follow of seclusion, veiling or concealing gown for girls in some South Asian communities. “It’s to cease temptation. Not each man has willpower. In case you carry on rising vulgarity, it is going to have penalties.”
The uproar was swift.
The Human Rights Fee of Pakistan, an impartial group, demanded Mr. Khan apologize for his remarks, which it referred to as “unacceptable conduct 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, however it additionally lays the blame on rape survivors,” the group mentioned.
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 concerning the societal responses and the necessity to put our efforts collectively to eradicate the menace of rape fully,” the workplace mentioned within the assertion. “Sadly, a part of his remark, consciously or unconsciously, has been distorted to imply one thing that he by no means supposed.”
Mr. Khan’s authorities has confronted immense strain to hurry up justice for rape survivors after a sequence of assaults sparked calls for for the dying penalty to be utilized to such circumstances. In December, the federal government handed a measure that mentioned 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, partially as a result of victims are sometimes treated as criminals or blamed for the assaults. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets final 12 months after a prime police official within the jap metropolis of Lahore mentioned that a woman who was raped on a deserted highway was partly in charge for the assault.
To critics, Mr. Khan’s feedback this week bolstered misogynistic attitudes that made the issue worse for girls.
“Sufferer blaming and policing girls’s clothes decisions each perpetuate rape tradition,” mentioned Laaleen Sukhera, a Lahore-based writer and public relations marketing consultant.
“Everybody and every thing appears to be blamed besides the precise perpetrators,” she mentioned.
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 publish. In one other, she mentioned that she hoped that Mr. Khan had been misquoted as a result of the person she knew had totally different opinions.
Earlier than he turned prime minister, Mr. Khan was a cricket star and A-list superstar who minimize a glamorous determine and was often known as a girls’ man. He married Ms. Goldsmith in 1995 and so they divorced in 2004. However he turned more and more conservative within the mid-Nineteen Nineties after he entered politics, and has been accused of being overly sympathetic to the Taliban in recent times.
To girls’s rights activists, Mr. Khan’s feedback this week have been solely the newest instance of the problem they face find assist for his or her causes within the deeply conservative society. Organizers of girls’s rights marches on Worldwide Ladies’s Day final month have mentioned they’ve been accused of “vulgarity” for looking for 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 area, even in their very own houses,” mentioned Ms. Sukhera, the writer in Lahore. “Regressive preaching prevents girls from reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs, and have to be addressed.”