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Unveiled women invite rape, says Pak PM Imran Khan

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (Xinhua/Li Muzi/IANS)

On Sunday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was trending in Pakistan for his #AbsoluteNo for an answer, in which he denied providing any military bases to the United States for any sort of action inside Afghanistan. Next , on Monday, the acclaimed “playboy” and former pacer, Khan was again trending on social media, this time for the wrong reasons. During his serial encounter with Axios on HBO, the all-rounder dubbed women’s clothes as a cause of rape. Obviously hell had to break loose thereafter.

It all began when the interviewer asked the PM, whether what women wear had any effect on the temptation that leads to rapes. Khan robustly answered:  “if a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the men, unless they’re robots.”

Confused, the interviewer asked him. “But is it really going to provoke acts of sexual violence?” Maintaining his stance, Khan proceeded to elaborate smugly:  “It depends on which society you live in."

The ex-cricket star was not finished yet. “If in a society, people haven’t seen that sort of thing, it will have an impact (on them). Growing up in a society like yours, maybe it won’t impact you. This cultural imperialism… Whatever is in our culture must be acceptable to everyone else."

But when he was reminded of his days as a cricket star and his image as a playboy, Khan said this was not about him. “My priority is how my society reacts and when we discuss how to top the sex crimes, we have to do something about it. Purdah is to stop the temptations….”

By this time social media had a gone berserk.

"Disappointing and frankly sickening to see PM Imran Khan repeat his victim-blaming regarding reasons for sexual violence in Pakistan," tweeted Reema Omer, Legal Advisor, South Asia, International Commission of Jurists.

This was not the first time Imran Khan has been caught on the wrong foot with his blatantly sexist remarks on women's clothing and rape. In April, Khan blamed "obscenity" for the rise in cases of sexual violence  in Pakistan during a live television interview and advised women to cover up to prevent temptation. "This entire concept of purdah is to avoid temptation. Not everyone has the willpower to avoid it," he said. He also said vulgarity and obscenity combine to destroy societies and families.

“If you keep increasing vulgarity in a society, then definitely there will be this impact,” he said. “What is the whole concept of observing the veil? It is so that there is no temptation in society. Each individual does not have the willpower or strength, if you keep increasing obscenity in the society and if you don’t care, then there are impacts of such things.”

The remarks caused an uproar among Pakistani rights groups, who reasoned that  such misogynistic remarks shame women and excuse rapists.

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called Khan’s comments unacceptable and appalling for suggesting the veil can contain sexual assault.