By now, many in Pakistan have taken exception to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks on the causes of sexual violence and rape, terming them factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous.
International media has also picked up on the premier’s comments linking the incidence of rape to obscenity and women’s modesty, and one article has caught the eye of Jemima Goldsmith, the ex-wife of Imran Khan.
UK’s MailOnline ran the news with the headline Pakistan PM Imran Khan blames how women dress for rise in rape cases and says ‘not everyone has the willpower to avoid it’, to which Jemima tweeted:
“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’.”
Then she quoted a verse [24:30] from the Holy Quran: “Say to the believing ‘men’ that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well aware of what they do.”
“The onus is on men,” she wrote.
Prime Minister Imran, in response to a question in his latest telethon, blamed what he described as the “increasing obscenity” in society for the surge in sex crimes against women and children. He maintained that history tells us that when ‘fahashi’ (obscenity) increases in society, sex crimes go up and the family system breaks down.
While admitting that the number of cases of rape and sexual assaults, particularly against children, are much higher than reported, he advised women to observe purdah to protect themselves.
“Such suggestions reflect a warped sense of morality, and insensitivity towards a serious problem. More dangerously, they try and provide justification for the increasing incidence of sexual crimes in Pakistan,” noted senior journalist Zahid Hussain in his article.
Meanwhile, a statement signed by representatives of several rights organisations said that Prime Minister Imran had actively fostered and promoted rape culture and rape apologia.
“In a country where the total reported cases of rape represent only the tip of the iceberg, such statements have the effect of further traumatising and silencing survivors of sexual violence by placing the blame on them, instead of on those who carry out the crime and the system that enables rapists,” the statement said.
The statement has been signed by representatives of several rights organisations, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, War Against Rape and Pakistan Bar Council’s Journalist Defence Committee.