June 23, 2021 

By Rehan Piracha 


Male activists and intellectuals have expressed their disapproval of Prime Minister’s recent remarks linking how women dress in public with sexual crimes in society.

Asked in an interview with HBO about how the Prime Minister thinks what women wear has any effect on the temptation that leads to rape, Imran Khan replied, “If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact, it will have an impact on men unless they’re robots. I mean it’s common sense.”

Following the controversy over the premier’s remarks which many described as misogynist, government aides said the prime minister was quoted out of context in the interview which was edited down to 14 minutes from the original 40 minutes. The state broadcaster PTV will run the full length interview with Urdu captions on Sunday.

Speaking to Voicepk.net, educationist and intellectual Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy said that it is inappropriate of a person, who was considered a playboy in his youth, to make such disparaging remarks about women. “In my view, the prime minister is apparently atoning for the excesses he committed in his youth by making such statements,” he said.

“It’s shameful that despite being beneficiary himself, our prime minister is reducing the civilised society in the West to just obscenity and nudity,” he said.

The educationist said that the change in the prime minister’s personality is linked to how fast he can take the society backward in time, believing erroneously that such remarks would boost his popularity.

Hoodbhoy said women and girls in Pakistani society already have been made to dorn veils (hijab) due to peer pressure in educational institutions in the last four decades.

Ijaz Saroop, rights activist, called the premier remarks unfortunate saying people in position of authority are supposed to choose their words carefully when they speak about issues like sexual violence against women and children in the country.

Saroop said the PM’s remarks were also offensive and demeaning towards men in the Pakistani society. “The implication that men here are prone or unable to resist temptation is a demeaning and insulting thing to say about Pakistani males,” he said.

The men in our society should speak up about how offended they feel by the image that they are not bound by societal norms, decency, morality and self control,” he added.

Saroop said the prime minister has inadvertently started victim blaming through the remarks about how women should dress in order to curb sexual violence in the country.

Usama Khilji, another rights activist, regretted that it was not the first time that the premier was making such misogynist statements. “The remarks were tantamount to victim blaming for survivors of sexual violence,” he said.

Khilji said the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leaders, ministers and workers need to tell their PM that clothes have no hand whatsoever in incidents of rape. ”Rape stems from notions of power, aggression and violence,” he added.

Khilji said the premier should offer an apology to women and men whose sentiments were hurt by these remarks.