During an interview with HBO Axios the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan made comments concerning women’s attire and the effects they have on men.
He said: “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 its common sense.”
I believe Prime Minister Khan’s comments are not simply reprehensible, but are rather dangerous and will further jeopardize women’s safety in Pakistan.
For me what was most concerning about the Prime Minister’s words was not what he said; his views concerning the exterior show of religiosity especially when it came to women’s bodies are well-documented and aren’t particularly surprising. My main issue was the way he said these words. Cool, nonchalant and in a matter of fact way.
Adding, “its common sense” further elucidates on this approach by explaining that with no nightclubs in Pakistan men aren’t accustomed to seeing women in “very few clothes” and hence their reaction is part of the conservative culture that should be accepted by the west. I believe his own attitude is much more revealing than his words.
Before Imran Khan became Prime Minister, he was a privileged young man who studied at Oxford, travelled the world and became the pride of Pakistan when he won the Cricket World Cup. His background and his worldly experience allowed him the luxuries of sampling and enjoying the freedoms of the west, including interacting with women often dressed in ways that would shock the Pakistani public according to his statement. Even marrying the British Heiress Jemima Goldsmith for a while. Since, I do not believe that Khan is a robot, perhaps he was tempted but he didn’t act on that temptation. Was his self-restraint due to his ethics?
The reality is that since the western educated, international athlete and now head of state was able to control his primal urges why can’t he assume the same regarding the average Pakistani man? What is his assumption saying about ordinary Pakistanis?
My second concern about Khan’s attitude, is the fact that as the head of state of a large and beautiful country he has the duty to deal with problems that hinder it from growth. His remarks which simply brush aside any concern don’t simply blame the victim of violence and abuse, but he actively dismisses a major problem that impacts Pakistani women on a daily basis.
Accordingly, tackling this predatory violence against women will never become a major priority for the government. By simply pushing for women to limit their wardrobe to traditional conservative clothing the problem is fixed.
A return to Pakistani traditions and values rather than being seduced by the deviant west is the way forward. Of course this will develop into a call to return women to stay at home to take care of their families. The path that begins with summoning traditional values while paying no heed to modernity is a slippery slope that evidently will lead to a major regression in women’s rights and economic recession. It can be said that the PM’s words aren’t simply offensive to women, they are a dereliction of duty towards the country he leads.
Third, I wonder about the impact of the PM’s words on diaspora Pakistanis some work very hard and are well integrated into their adoptive lands. Pakistanis now have to deal with the unfounded accusation that unless they react to a woman wearing few clothes they are in fact “robots.”
Finally, Pakistan is a Muslim country. Its head of state speaks from a place where he is supposedly guided by Islamic teachings. I wonder where exactly in the Quran it says men are provided a license to violently attack women based on how they dress. The Quran instructed men to look away if they were tempted, to marry if they can do, so as not to be controlled by their sexual appetites, and if they can’t marry they were instructed to fast to keep their hearts pure and chaste.
Islam informs us that if a man loves and conceals his love on his death he becomes a martyr. Islam doesn’t normalize violating innocent women based on their attire Prime Minister Khan. Pakistan deserves better. Islam deserves better.