Pakistan’s Prime Minister blames rise in rape cases on how women dress

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Imran Khan was accused of ‘baffling ignorance’ (Picture: Reuters)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister has been blasted after appearing to blame women’s choice of clothing for a rise in rape cases.

Former cricketer Imran Khan – considered a playboy in his youth – was accused of ‘baffling ignorance’ over the ‘dangerous’ comments.

In a weekend interview on live television, Oxford-educated Mr Khan said an increase in rapes indicated the ‘consequences in any society where vulgarity is on the rise’.

Suggesting women cover up to prevent temptation, he said: ‘The incidents of rape of women… (have) actually very rapidly increased in society.

‘This entire concept of purdah is to avoid temptation, not everyone has the willpower to avoid it.’ The term purdah can refer to modest dress or the segregation of the sexes.

The intervention has provoked a major backlash, with hundreds signing an online statement branding Mr Khan’s comments ‘factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous’ and a key rights watchdog condemning him.

The statement added: ‘Fault rests solely with the rapist and the system that enables the rapist, including a culture fostered by statements such as those made by (Khan)’.

Demonstrators in September 2020 carry signs against a gang rape that occurred on the side of a road at a protest in Karachi, Pakistan (Picture: Reuters)

Independent rights groups The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said on Tuesday that it was ‘appalled’ by the comments.

It said: ‘Not only does this betray a baffling ignorance of where, why and how rape occurs, but it also lays the blame on rape survivors, who, as the government must know, can range from young children to victims of honour crimes.’

Pakistan is a deeply conservative country where victims of sexual abuse are often viewed with suspicion and criminal complaints are rarely given serious investigation.

Many parts of the country live under an ‘honour’ code that can see women who bring ‘shame’ on the family subjected to violence or murder.

Pakistan regularly ranks among the worst places in the world for gender equality.

Last year, protests erupted across the nation when a police chief admonished a gang-rape victim for driving at night without a male companion.

The Franco-Pakistani mother was assaulted in front of her children on the side of a motorway after her car ran out of fuel.

Mr Khan was also criticised in 2020 for another television appearance in which he failed to challenge a Muslim cleric’s insistence that the coronavirus pandemic had arrived because of women’s wrongdoings.

In his weekend TV appearance, the twice-divorced Pakistani PM also blamed divorce rates in Britain on the ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ culture that began in the 1970s, when he was gaining a reputation in London as a playboy.

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