Pakistani human rights groups and individuals have criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for blaming a rise in sexual assault cases on how women dress during a live interview.
“In any society where vulgarity is prevalent, there are consequences,” Khan said during a two-hour weekend interview, advising women to cover up to prevent temptation.
Khan further said that the concept of purdah — a term that can refer to women dressing in concealing clothes around men or segregation of the sexes — was “to avoid temptation” because “not everyone has the willpower to avoid it.”
After denouncing crimes against women and children, Khan said that sexual violence was a result of “increasing obscenity” and of India, the West, and Hollywood movies.
A statement began circulating online on April 7 condemning Khan’s comments as “factually incorrect, insensitive, and dangerous.”
Signed by hundreds of rights groups, as well as individuals, the statement said Khan “has actively fostered and promoted rape culture and rape apologia” through his words.
“Such statements have the effect of further traumatizing 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 read.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also criticized Khan, stating on Twitter, “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 honor crimes.”
“This is unacceptable behavior on the part of a public leader. We demand an immediate apology and renewed commitment on the government’s part to tackling rape as it should — as an act of violence, of power,” HRCP further stated.