Tuesday, 13 Apr 2021

Pakistani PM’s ex-wives criticise his comments linking rise in rape cases to how women dress

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing more backlash over comments he made linking a rise in rape cases with how women dress – including from his two ex-wives.

Mr Khan, a former professional cricketer who was once a fixture of elite social circles in Britain, claimed that purdah (covering up or segregating) was to avoid temptation, and “not everyone has the willpower to avoid it”.

He also said he had seen how “sex, drugs and rock and roll” caused high divorce rates in the UK – and added that “vulgarity” in societies around the world was to blame for the “moral decline which leads to sex attacks”.

Rights groups roundly criticised him – with one, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, saying his remarks not only displayed “a baffling ignorance of where, why and how rape occurs, but it also lays the blame on rape survivors”.

And now the PM’s first wife, Briton Jemima Goldsmith, has entered the debate by tweeting “the onus is on men”, and quoting a passage from the Koran calling on men to avert their gaze from women.

His second wife, Reham Khan, also a British citizen, added the fact that some young children were being raped in Pakistan meant the PM “had a totally wrong way of thinking” about rape.

Mr Khan’s office has maintained his remarks were taken out of context.

It said in a statement: “The prime minister said our strict anti-rape laws alone will not be able to stem the rise in sex crime. The whole society has to fight it together including lowering exposure to temptation.”

Hours later, a second statement was issued with the reference to “temptation” removed.

Fewer than 3% of sexual assault or rape cases result in a conviction in Pakistan, according to the Karachi-based group War Against Rape.

It has called on Khan and his cabinet to undergo sensitivity training and for a judicial crackdown on rape.

In March, a court in Lahore sentenced two men to death for gang-raping a woman travelling along a major highway last year.

The incident sparked nationwide protests after one senior police official publicly questioned why the woman had been driving alone at night with her children.

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