The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has blamed Western and Bollywood culture for the breakdown of family values in society.
In an interview on Pakistani TV last weekend, Khan was asked what steps his government had taken to prevent sexual abuse.
He said: “This concept of purdah, what is it? It’s so that we don’t have temptation in society. In society not every individual has strength or willpower. The more we increase immorality in society there will be consequences.
“When I was 18 the first time I went to Britain it wasn’t the society it has now become. It was the beginning of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I saw it with my own eyes as the immorality increased. First with adult films that started spreading widely. It started appearing in the media. What happened with that? There was a direct impact on the family system. When I went there there was one divorce in every 17 marriages, today there is 70 per cent divorce and it’s increasing.
“When Bollywood started imitating Hollywood it’s a similar situation there. Delhi is called the rape capital. As a society we have to make a decision, some things we can’t control. We see Western films from outside, Bollywood and other things on TV. The films that I used to watch many years ago are very different to what they have become now and there will be some impact from this.
“In our religion this concept of purdah, there must be some benefit of this. It’s to protect the family system and we have to protect our society from these things. The media, mobile phones are causing damage especially for our children, things are available for kids to access that weren’t available before.”
Indian media as well as liberal feminists have condemned Khan for the remarks. Human rights groups in Pakistan have also accused Khan of being a “rape apologist.”
They say Pakistan is ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women in terms of safety and equality. Sexual abuse, so-called “honour” killings and forced marriage are common, and criminal complaints are rarely reported to police, or seriously investigated.
Journalist Zahid Hussain wrote in his column in Pakistan’s leading newspaper, Dawn, that “Imran Khan’s views on rape are not very different from the callous comments made by a former Lahore police chief about the Motorway gang rape last year. He blamed the victim for driving late at night. His comments reflected the thinking of a large segment of society that prefers to blame the victim.”
There are at least 11 rape cases reported in Pakistan every day, according to official statistics. Over 22,000 rape cases were reported to police across the country in the past six years. However, only 77 accused have been convicted, which is 0.3% of the total figure.