Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is still receiving backlash for his remarks linking women’s clothing and rising rape incidents in Pakistan.
“If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact on the men, unless they’re robots. I mean it’s common sense,” Imran had said in an interview with Axios.
In Pakistan, many female lawmakers from opposition parties lambasted the premier for his “condemnable” comments which many see as excusing rape on the grounds of victim-blaming.
Former playboy cricketer Khan’s ex-wife, British socialite Jemima Goldsmith also disagreed with him.
She tweeted: “I remember years ago being in Saudi Arabia and an elderly woman in an abaya & niqab was lamenting the fact that when she went out she was followed & harassed by young men. The only way to get rid of them was to take her face covering OFF. The problem is not how women dress!”
However, several female lawmakers have sprung to Khan’s defence.
The ruling PTI on Tuesday defended Khan’s problematic comments, calling out the “liberal brigade” for misrepresenting the facts.
Dawn is reporting that Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul claimed that the premier was “a symbol of women empowerment” as no other party had managed to mobilise women in the political sphere to such an extent.
“For the first time in Pakistan, five women ministers are sitting in the federal cabinet. This means that if there is a symbol of women empowerment in Pakistan, it is Prime Minister Imran,” she said.
“Our culture and way of dressing is idolised across the world. They wish and try to dress like us graceful Pakistanis,” she said, adding that no “liberal corrupt” would be allowed to be a spokesman for Pakistani society.
She lashed out at “liberals” for trying to distort the narrative when the premier was trying to “strengthen social fabric in line with religious teachings and culture”.
Parliamentary Secretary for Law Maleeka Bokhari said that she was proud to be a member of Parliament under the leadership of “a man who prioritised the protection of women and children”.
She said that the first instructions the premier gave the law ministry were to make laws to put an end to sexual abuse and violence.
Kanwal Shauzab maintained that the prime minister had empowered women in the true sense.
Quoting a verse from the Quran, which she said was the essence of the prime minister’s statement, she remarked that those contesting the premier’s statement were actually contesting Allah.
Shauzab said the prime minister’s comments were taken out of context.
“In the interview, the prime minister explained how our culture was different from that of the West. He explained that just 1% cases of rape were reported because it was a problem of honour for people in our culture,” she said.
She went on to allege that opposition lawmakers had themselves been involved in cases of rapes and sexual abuse.
“On the other hand, we passed the anti-rape law,” she said, adding that the “liberal brigade” was misrepresenting Pakistani society.
She questioned: “Which parent would want their daughter to dress up in a way that makes her vulnerable to attack?”
“Nudity is not a part of our culture. It is the culture of animals,” she remarked. “Islam teaches us to cover ourselves.”