Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that any person who commits rape was “solely responsible” for the crime and “never the victim”, after he was criticised for blaming a rise in sexual assault cases on how women dress.
“Anyone who commits rape, solely and solely, that person is responsible,” Khan told PBS anchor Judy Woodruff in a wide-ranging interview aired on Tuesday.
“No matter whatever – how much ever a woman is provocative or whatever she wears, the person who commits rape, he is fully responsible. Never is the victim responsible.”
Pakistani women activists and rights campaigners accused Prime Minister Khan of “victim-blaming” and “baffling ignorance” on the issue which came amid a rise in sex crimes against women in the South Asian country.
On his previous remarks on the issue Khan said his comments were “completely taken out of context”.
“They were simply talking about Pakistan society, where we are having a rise, a sharp rise in sex crimes.”
Khan said he would never utter such “a stupid thing” that a person who was raped is responsible for the crime.
“It’s always the rapist that is responsible.”
In a previous interview in April, he advised women to cover up to prevent temptation.
“This entire concept of purdah is to avoid temptation, not everyone has the willpower to avoid it,” he said, using a term that can refer to modest dress or the segregation of the sexes.
On Tuesday, Khan clarified his comments regarding the purdah saying that “in Islam, purdah does not mean just clothes.”
“And purdah is not restricted to women only, but that is for men as well. It means bringing the temptation down in a society.”
In 2018, a poll of global gender security experts ranked Pakistan as the sixth most dangerous country worldwide for women.
The Pakistani leader also highlighted sex crimes against children, which he said was “going through the roof”.
Sexual abuse against children is a widespread problem in the South Asian country, with more than 2,960 cases of abuse against children registered in 2020, according to rights group Sahil.
Of those cases, more than 62 percent cases involved a form of sexual abuse, including rape and forced filming for the purpose of pornography.
US ‘really messed it up’ in Afghanistan
The Pakistani leader also delved into the conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Khan said the US “really messed it up” in Afghanistan by searching for a military solution and then seeking political reconciliation with the Taliban armed group from a position of weakness.
“I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan. You see, first of all, they tried to look for a military solution in Afghanistan, when there never was one,” he said.
“When there were 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, that was the time to go for a political solution. But once they had reduced the troops to barely 10,000, and then, when they gave an exit date, the Taliban thought they had won.”
The US is withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan 20 years after it removed the Taliban from power in a military invasion.
As the US-led foreign forces are almost on the verge of completing the withdrawal, the Taliban group has pressed ahead with a military offensive gaining new territories.
A survey conducted by the DPA news agency in mid-July revealed the Taliban now controls more than half of Afghanistan’s districts while pushing to advance towards several provincial capitals. However, it is difficult to verify those claims.
The US-initiated peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan leadership have so far been deadlocked.
US President Joe Biden announced in mid-April that the last American and NATO troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on US soil. That deadline has since been revised to August 31.
Inclusive ‘political settlement’ only outcome
When asked if the Taliban’s rise would be a good outcome for Afghanistan, Khan said: “The only good outcome for Afghanistan is that if there is a political settlement which is inclusive, so they form some sort of a government that includes all sorts of different factions there.”
Khan warned that any “protracted civil war” in Afghanistan would push more refugees towards Pakistan, which he said already had some three million refugees.