Human rights groups in Pakistan call for Imran Khan's public apology for remarks on rape

·3-min read
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)

Karachi [Pakistan], June 25 (ANI): Human rights groups in Pakistan have called on Prime Minister Imran Khan to publicly apologise for making controversial remarks on sexual violence, for which he pinned the blame on the woman's attire.

At a press conference held on Thursday, at least 16 civil society organisations, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), the Women's Action Forum, Tehrik-e-Niswan, Aurat March, and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, among others, have strongly condemned Imran Khan's troubling remarks linking women's attire to rape, according to an HRCP statement.

"This is the second time that the Prime Minister has reduced sexual violence to an act of 'temptation.' This is dangerously simplistic and only reinforces the common public perception that women are 'knowing' victims and men 'helpless' aggressors. For the head of government--a government that claims to defend the rights of women and vulnerable groups--to insist on this view is simply inexcusable," read the statement.

HRCP further said that it was equally disheartening to see that several women members of the ruling party had jumped to the Prime Minister's defence and justified his comments in vague, illogical terms.

"Even a cursory glance at the news should make it painfully clear that survivors of sexual violence can include women, girls, men, boys, and transgender persons--and that such acts can occur in schools, workplaces, homes, and public spaces. Gender, age and attire do not 'prevent' rape any more than the time of day or the relationship between survivor and perpetrator," said the Commission.

The Prime Minister would do well to understand that rape is an act of power, not lack of sexual control, HRCP said further.

"We demand an immediate public apology from the Prime Minister and assurances that his highly flawed perception of how and why rape occurs does not inform the government's attempts to tackle what is a serious and prevalent crime in Pakistan," the Commission remarked.

In an interview with Axios' on HBO, Khan said: "If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact on the men unless they are robots. It's common sense."

"...I said the concept of 'purdah'. Avoid temptation in society. We don't have discos here, we don't have nightclubs. It is a completely different society way of life here. So if you raise temptation in society to a point -- all these young guys have nowhere to go --- it has a consequence in the society," he also said.

This comes two months after Imran Khan's comments on sexual violence drew severe backlash, where he had said that the rise in such violence in Pakistan, particularly against children, was caused due to "fahashi" (vulgarity).

Khan's latest controversial remarks have led to an outpouring of furious comments on social media as netizens termed his comments as "victim-blaming". Reacting to the comments, journalist Gharidah Farooqi described her reaction to the premier's words as "disgusted," "appalled" and "outraged", reported Dawn.

Another scribe, Shahmir Sanni, said: "What is most heinous about Imran Khan's justifications for rape, is that nearly every woman that has been raped in Pakistan has worn what he would prescribe as modest clothing. This has nothing to do with clothes, but just another man trying to escape accountability. It is sick." (ANI)

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