Pakistan PM Imran Khan sparks outrage as he blames women's clothes for surge in rape cases telling girls to 'cover up'

PAKISTANI Prime Minister Imran Khan has sparked outrage after blaming how women dress for a surge in rape cases.

In a weekend TV appearance, Oxford-educated Khan, 68, advised women to cover up to prevent temptation for men who lacked "willpower".

Khan, one of the best cricketers of all time, said the "rapid" increase in rape cases indicated the "consequences in any society where vulgarity is on the rise".

"This entire concept of purdah is to avoid temptation, not everyone has the willpower to avoid it," he said, using a term which can refer to modest dress or the segregation of the sexes.

Hundreds have now signed a statement calling Khan's comments "factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous".

"Fault rests solely with the rapist and the system that enables the rapist, including a culture fostered by statements such as those made by Khan," the statement said.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan – an independent rights watchdog – said it was "appalled" by the comments.

"Not only does this betray a baffling ignorance of where, why and how rape occurs, but it also lays the blame on rape survivors, who, as the government must know, can range from young children to victims of honour crimes," it said.

Much of Pakistan lives under an "honour" code where women who bring "shame" on the family can be subjected to violence or murder.

It is a deeply conservative country where victims of sexual abuse are often viewed with suspicion and cases are rarely seriously investigated.

During the interview on live television at the weekend, Khan also blamed divorce rates in the UK on the "sex, drugs and rock and roll" culture which began in the 1970s – when the twice-divorced Khan was gaining a reputation in London as a playboy.

He has been linked to a roll call of glamorous beauties, including Stephanie Beacham, Goldie Hawn, Kristiane Backer, Susannah Constantine and Marie Helvin – while he also counted Princess Diana as a friend.

The batsman-turned-politician himself had said meeting women was chief among "the very decadent pleasures in life" which he enjoyed.

In 1995, he married glamorous socialite Jemima Goldsmith and the couple had two sons before they split in 2004, which was in part attributed to the difficulties she faced in Pakistan where she was hounded for her Jewish ancestry. 

Khan's second marriage to former BBC newsreader Reham Khan lasted just nine months in 2015.

He married his current wife, Bushra Wattoo, in a conservative ceremony in 2018, and revealed how did not see her face until after they wed.

Last year, Khan was criticised after failing to challenge a Muslim cleric's insistence that Covid had been unleashed because of the wrongdoings of women.

And nationwide protests also erupted after a police chief reprimanded a gang-rape victim for driving at night without a male companion.

The Franco-Pakistani mother was assaulted in front of her children on the side of a motorway after her car ran out of fuel.

Khan's latest controversy comes as the organisers behind International Women's Day marches face what they have called a "coordinated disinformation campaign" against them.

It has led to blasphemy accusations – a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan where allegations have previously led mobs to attack people.

The organisers of the annual march have called for the prime minister to intervene.

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