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Human rights groups in Pakistan have accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of being a “rape apologist” after he blamed a rise in sexual assault cases on how women dress.
During a live television interview, he advised women to cover up to prevent temptation.
Mr Khan added “in any society where vulgarity is prevalent, there are consequences.”
Hundreds of people have signed a statement demanding an apology.
Pakistan is ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women in terms of safety and equality.
Sexual abuse, so-called “honour” killings and forced marriage are common, and criminal complaints are rarely reported to police, or seriously investigated.
What did Imran Khan say?
In a two-hour-long, question-and-answer interview with the public on live television, Imran Khan was asked what steps his government had taken to prevent sexual abuse.
After denouncing crimes against women and children, he said that sexual violence was a result of “increasing obscenity”, adding it was a product of India, the West and Hollywood movies.
The prime minister said women in Pakistan should remove “temptation” because “not everyone has willpower”. He said women should observe purdah – a term referring to women wearing modest clothes around men or segregation between sexes.
Last year Imran Khan was criticised following a similar national television interview, where he failed to challenge a Muslim cleric’s opinion that women were to blame for the coronavirus pandemic.
What was the reaction?
A statement condemning the prime minister’s comments and demanding an apology has been co-signed by multiple human rights organisations and hundreds of individuals.
It said his words were “factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous” and “actively fostered and promoted rape culture”.
“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,” it reads.
Soon after his comments, there was widespread outrage on social media.