Did PM Imran blame rape crisis to how women dress?

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Soha Nisar

Recently, in an interview with HBO, the incumbent Prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan made some remarks that has caused much havoc on social media and has been the topic of countless debates, especially within the women circle. He famously asserted, “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. I mean it’s common sense.”I would like to make an appeal to the prime ministerto enlighten me and the majority of the vulnerable population of the logic behind this prudence. How can an atrocity of sexual violence be merely justified on accounts of dressing and impulse control? Are men really that weak and apathetic that a slight show of skin would distract them into committing sexual misdemeanor? If that’s the case, why are the victims of rape oftenteenaged boys, burqa-clad women and minors when they were fully clothed?There are certainly a lot of shortcomings in premier’s statement that need to be rectified. God declared humans as ashraful makhluqat and superior from other creatures by endowing the former with the ability to think and act for themselves; hence, they certainly have the ability to control their evil instincts. This can be substantiated in Surah Yusuf which describes a historical incident of Zulaikha who tried to seduce Hazrat Yusuf on accounts of his sensational beauty. However, all her attempts proved fruitless after Hazrat Yusuf refused to give in to her immoral demands for the sake of Paradise. (Chapter 12, Quran) Nevertheless, rape cannot be justified under any circumstances. Being a woman in itself is a daunting task in a society of Pakistan which is seemingly swarmed by pedophiles. All women- no matter their age, dress or social class have experienced something inappropriate in some point of their lives. To top it all, child sex abuse and teenaged boy rape cases are exponentially rising. Certainly, none of them was in any sort of inappropriate clothing or semi-naked. Rape has no substantial connection with dressing but has much rooted social and psychological causes.According to the actor, Osman Khalid Butt, “Yes, there is desire, temptation, attraction. Rape isn’t caused by this. Rape is about power. Dominance, a complete lack of empathy, hostility. It diminishes a woman – or a man, or a child – to a sexual object. It is dehumanizing.” For such reasons, feminists in Pakistan haveproclaimed our society as highly patriarchal wheremen have been endowed a privileged status that has allowed them to run statecraft and subjugate women in all spheres- social, political and economic. Unequal gender representation in socio-political institutions has prevented biased policymaking thateffectively deal withwomen issues due to a lack of understanding which has further buttressed the gender norms of masculinity and femininity. The feeling of power and male ego evokes feelings of entitlement over the weaker sex’ bodies- which is outrageous and completely inacceptable. For such reason, spokesperson for the Pakistan Muslim League Marriyum Aurangzeb criticized Khan on Twitter by asserting, “It’s not women’s choices that lead to sexual assault rather the choices of men, who choose to engage in this despicable and vile crime.”Hence, there is a dire need to break the patriarchal norms and sexist stereotypes that has worsened the plight of the weak- women, children and men alike. In the light of the above discussion, the need of the hour is to raise awareness in order to reform the patriarchal attitudes, legal frameworks and sociopolitical institutions. Media needs to be acknowledged in this regard that has not only played a huge part to hold the leaders accountable butcan be dubbed as the ‘voice’ of a plethora of victims of harassment and underprivileged citizens. Gender inequality is a rampant social issue that needs to be addressed in order to alleviate the image of our country in terms of socioeconomic development. For this regard, we must adhere to the Sustainable Development Goals and commit to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which has not been implemented since 1996. Moreover, the essence of a democracy needs to be respected and all citizens must be given their rights regardless of gender. Last but not the least, the justice system and prosecution department must be strengthened to bring the sex offenders to the book and deter them in the future. Holistic reformsmust be taken from grassroot levels in order to rectify the ‘actual’ cause of rape in our society and create some hope for a better future.

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