Row over Pakistan PM Imran Khan's controversial comments linking temptation to women's dressing
Islamabad, Jun 22: Angry women Opposition parliamentarians in Pakistan have criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan over his controversial statement on women's dressing, amidst growing cases of rapes in the country.
In a recent interview on HBO - aired on Axios' website - Khan was asked if he thought what women wear has any effect on the temptation that leads to rapes, the Prime Minister replied,
"If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact, it will have an impact on the men, unless they are robots. I mean it is common sense."
Apparently stunned by Khan's response, interviewer Jonathan Swan rephrased his question, "But is it really going to provoke acts of sexual violence?" Maintaining his stance, the 68-year-old flamboyant cricketer-turned-politician went on to elaborate, "It depends on which society you live in."
He added that: "If in a society people haven't seen that sort of thing, it will have an impact [on them]. Growing up in a society like yours, maybe it won't impact you. This cultural imperialism... Whatever is in our culture must be acceptable to everyone else."
Criticising the Khan's controversial remarks, Opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman tweeted that, "Whether it's our laws or even our religion, which is very clear that respect for women is the responsibility of the beholder, no man has the right to blame women or how they dress, for violence, rape and crimes against women.
Shocked that our PM is doing this." "Does IK [Imran Khan] not know that by saying women should dress a certain way, he is giving oppressors and criminals against women a new narrative to justify their behaviour. There is NO justification for a prime minister to talk this way.
Highly irresponsible and condemnable," she said in another tweet. Sindh Minister for Women Development Shehla Raza said Prime Minister Khan should focus on the issues being faced by the country instead of "keeping an eye on the women".
The provincial minister said Khan should not have said this while sitting on the seat of the prime minister of the country, the Dawn newspaper reported. "The world got an insight into a mindset of a sick, misogynistic, degenerate & derelict IK. It's not women's choices that lead to sexual assault rather the choices of men who choose to engage in this despicable and vile CRIME," Pakistan Muslim League-(Nawaz) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb in a tweet. "Maybe the misogynist, degenerate can defend paedophiles and murderers, as he advocates for rapist, after all men cannot be expected to control temptation. Just FYI Mr degenerate, self-control is a little thing upon which Allah places a great premium," she added.
Stung by the angry reaction to Khan's controversial comments, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fielded prominent party women leaders to defend the prime minister. Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul and PTI lawmakers Maleeka Ali Bokhari and Kanwal Shauzab held a press conference on Tuesday to tell everyone they misinterpreted Khan's comments. The PTI-led government mobilised women for the first time in Pakistan, she was quoted as saying by Geo News.
"A woman like me became a member of Parliament from a tribal area," she said, adding that there are five women in the Cabinet for the first time. She described Khan as a "symbol of women's empowerment". "We are strong women and we have been strengthened by our leader Imran Khan," Bokhari said.
Shauzab said she believes that if you are among those who are "fighting" against the premier's statement in his interview, then you are "disagreeing with the orders of Allah". She went on to say that Prime Minister Khan explained the commands of Allah regarding women. During the HBO interview, Khan was also asked about his earlier comments about temptation, women's dressing and men's "willpower" - and how he was accused of rape victim blaming. Khan, brushing it off as nonsense, said the concept of purdah is to avoid temptation in society.
"We don't have discos here, we don't have nightclubs, so it is a completely different society, way of life here, so if you raise temptation in society to the point and all these young guys have nowhere to go, it has consequences in the society," Khan said.
There are at least 11 rape cases reported in Pakistan every day with over 22,000 rape cases reported to police across the country in the last six years, according to official statistics reported by the Pakistani media. However, only 77 accused have been convicted which comprise 0.3 per cent of the total figure, The News International reported in November last year.