Imran Khan wearing a black shirt speaks as he raises his left hand up palm upwards
Imran Khan has again sparked outrage after suggesting women’s attire plays a role in provoking sexual violence.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has faced growing criticism after seemingly blaming a rise in sexual violence in Pakistan on women wearing “very few clothes”.

His comments drew nationwide condemnation from human rights activists and also the country’s opposition, which sought

an apology.

The controversial statements however, aired over the weekend came in an interview on Axios, a documentary news series on

HBO. 

“If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact, it will have an impact on the men, unless they’re robots,”

the Prime Minister said.

“I mean it’s common sense.”

Asked directly by interviewer Jonathan Swan whether the way that women dress could provoke acts of sexual violence,

Mr Khan said: “It depends on which society you live in. If in a society where people haven’t seen that sort of thing, it

will have an impact on them.”

However, Marriyum Aurrangzeb, spokeswoman for the opposition Pakistan Muslim League party, condemned Mr Khan

on Twitter for his remarks.

“The world got an insight into a mindset of a sick, misogynistic, degenerate & derelict IK (Imran Khan),” she tweeted.

Growing criticism

It was the second time in two months that Mr Khan sparked outrage after suggesting that women’s attire plays a role

in provoking sexual violence against them. 

In April, in an online show on state-run Pakistan Television, Mr Khan claimed that wearing a veil — the traditional head

covering worn by conservative Muslim women — would protect women from sexual assault.

Mr Khan’s government has faced criticism over its failure to curb sexual attacks on women since he came into power

by winning a simple majority in parliamentary elections in 2018.

Pakistan has been rocked by high-profile sexual attacks, including last September when a woman was gang-raped in

front of her children after her car broke down on a major freeway at night near Lahore.

Nearly 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan each year in so-called “honour killings” for allegedly violating conservative

norms on love and marriage.

The weekend interview with Mr Khan in Islamabad covered a wide range of issues, but his comments seemingly linking

how women dress to sexual violence garnered by far the most attention.

The former cricket star drew broad criticism on social media from both civil rights groups and everyday Pakistanis.

“Shame on You,” tweeted Pakistani woman Frieha Altaf.

However, female lawmakers from Mr Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party defended the Prime Minister, saying his comments

were taken out of context, without elaborating. 

Zartaj Gul, the Minister for Climate Change, said at a news conference on Tuesday “our culture and also our way of

dressing is idealised across the world”, referring to conservative norms of dressing in Pakistan.

By Cynthia N.

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