Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been facing flak from women’s rights activists following his comments on rape and advising women to “cover-up” to avoid it. In a recent interview, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader stated that rape has indeed been on the rise and that to “avoid temptation”, women needed to cover up and adhere to the concept of purdah.
“The incidents of rape of women have actually very rapidly increased in society,” Khan said, adding, “This entire concept of purdah is to avoid temptation, not everyone has the willpower to avoid it”. He added that this had to manifest itself in some form.
Khan also blamed ‘fahashi’ (vulgarity), which he said was on the rise and contributed to the rise in sexual crimes and violence. The Pakistani cricket captain with a former reputation for being a “playboy” said that in the 70s when he had visited the UK for cricket, he had found drugs, sex and vulgarity on the rise. He said that today, the UK had gone up 70 percent due to “vulgarity,” ANI reported.
The comments came during a QnA session on Sunday on live television when a caller asked him what the government in Pakistan was doing about the rising number of cases of sexual violence against women.
The statements have been widely rebuked by women and gender rights activists who slammed his “baffling ignorance” for linking rape to women’s clothing, Al Jazeera reported. Among his critics is filmmaker and his former wife Jemima Goldsmith. Taking to Twitter, Goldsmith, who was married to the former cricketer from 1995 to 2005, said that the onus was on men.
In a follow-up tweet, Goldsmith wrote, “I’m hoping this is a misquote/ mistranslation. The Imran I knew used to say, “Put a veil on the man’s eyes not on the woman.” Khan, who is Oxford-educated, became the Prime Minister of Pakistan on July 25, 2018 after his party PTI won 157 out of 342 seats in the general elections and formed a coalition government.
During the interaction, Khan also defended bringing the Turkish show Ertugrul to Pakistan and said that not only was the show entertaining but it also did not contain any immoral or objectionable content.
The PM’s comments come amid a rising number of cases of sexual violence against women. According to reported statistics, at least 11 rapes are reported in Pakistan every day with nearly 22,000 cases reported in the last six years. Only 77 persons, however, has so far been convicted for the crimes.