Unpacking Imran Khan's Sexist Remark: Can 'Vulgarity' Ever Be Blamed For Rise In Rapes?

Imran Khan rape remark: The Pakistan PM recently blamed the rise in 'vulgarity' for rise in rapes. Must politicians be allowed to get away with misogynist statements?

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Imran Khan rape remark: During a two-hour-long question and answer session with the public, a caller asked the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan what plans the government had in regard to the increasing rape cases in their country. To everyone's shock, the Prime Minister made an extremely misogynist statement.

According to reports, he said that it was fahashi (vulgarity) that caused a rise in the rape cases in Pakistan. Khan didn't stop at that. He further elaborated that the purdah system in Islam is meant to remove "temptation" from the society because everyone doesn't have the 'willpower'. Read a detailed report on the incident here.

Over the years, women have been told to dress "decently", return home "on time", behave like a "lady" and be submissive. On the other hand, men are never taught to not rape or sexually assault women. Why? Because "men will be men." They have every right to exploit women and not be punished for it. Through his statement, this is exactly what Khan reiterated. He believes if women "cover" themselves around men, they are safe.

When will we stop blaming women for men's violent tendencies?

Victim-blaming in cases of rape or assault is nothing new in the eyes of South Asians. This has always been the quickest and easiest way to escape the responsibility of providing women with a safe space. A lot has already been said about how the onus is always shifted on the women for being "tempting" and "inviting" strangers.

No, "vulgarity" or "obscenity" cannot be the reasons behind rapes. The only reason why women become victims of such heinous crimes is perverts unable to curb their inappropriate sexual urges. But according to Khan it's the "sex, drug and rock and roll" culture and "media taking inspiration from Hollywood" which are responsible for an increase in sexual assault and related crimes. Abstaining from such activities shouldn't be difficult if one believes it to be wrong, he said.

When are we going to stop blaming women for men's violent tendencies? When are we going to school men and teach them not to be monstrous? When are we going to stop making excuses for all the wrongs happening around us?


Social Media Reacts Sharply To Imran Khan Rape Remark

This Imran Khan rape remark has caused an uproar on social media and Twitterati was, understandably, furious. Who wouldn't be when such regressive thought is being used to shift blame for rising crime and therefore law and order incompetence on women? Will covering up prevent rapes? Well, there's news for Khan. Gender-based violence occurs across the spectrum of age and culture.

As per statistics, 11 rape cases are reported everyday in Pakistan. In the last 6 years, over 22,000 cases have been reported to the police. The victims range from young children to victims of honour crimes.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

♀️ HRCP is appalled by PM @ImranKhanPTI's recent remarks linking the incidence of rape to 'obscenity' and suggesting that 'purdah' would contain the problem. This is unacceptable behaviour on the part of a public leader.

— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) April 6, 2021 that it is appalled by the PM's remarks and "This is unacceptable behaviour on part of a public leader".

Journalist Fareiha Aziz said that the Prime Minister actively fostered and promoted rape culture through such a statement. She added that he must apologise for what he said.

Toddlers are assaulted. Old women in sarees are violated. Women in burkhas are raped. With these realities in view, does Imran Khan rape remark hold any ground whatsoever?

Views expressed are the author's own. 

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