ISLAMABAD: Outraged by his remark linking sexual violence to “increasing obscenity” in society, Pakistanis have flooded social media with memes of PM Imran Khan, many of them showing him in Western attire in the company of foreigners, and accompanied by comments like “he is trying to convert half-clad British beauties to the benefits of purdah”.
In response to a question in his latest telethon, Khan had said, “History tells us that when ‘fahashi’ (obscenity) increases in society, sex crimes go up and the family system breaks down”.
Pakistani journalist Reema Omer tore into him on Twitter. “PM’s comments linking rape with “obscenity” are ignorant, dangerous and condemnable,” she wrote. “His propagation of this rape myth shows he has no understanding of the issue, and amounts to providing excuses for criminal acts of perpetrators while blaming the victims.”
Another social media user responded to Omer with a sarcastic defence of the PM. “You need to give him (Imran Khan) a break as he is saying what he is told or messaged. His past life shows how colourful he was.”
Rights activist Meena Gabeena didn’t hold back either. “I can guarantee that one day a number of women will come out with accusations on Imran Khan of harassment and even rape,” she said. “A man with such mentality is definitely in the crime himself.”
Pakistan’s legal fraternity, rights groups and women rights forums, too, condemned Khan, terming his remarks “factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous”.
A statement signed by representatives of several rights organisations, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, War Against Rape and Pakistan Bar Council’s Journalist Defence Committee, said that the PM had actively fostered and promoted rape culture and rape apologia.
“In a country where the total reported cases of rape represent only the tip of the iceberg, such statements have the effect of further traumatising 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,” the statement said.
“Comments of this nature also disregarded the prevalent cases of sexual violence that seemed to have escaped the Prime Minister’s attention, including but not limited to the rape of minor girls as young as a few months old, sexual abuse of young boys, even in madressahs, and sexual abuse and violence within the confines of the home, perpetrated by family members, including mehrams (a person whom a Muslim cannot marry).”