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Explained: Why Martina Navratilova thinks Pak PM Imran Khan deserves a ‘big F U’

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, on a live television show earlier in the week, blamed the 'vulgar' clothing of victims for the rise in rape cases in the country.

Written by Shahid Judge , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: April 15, 2021 9:15:39 am
Martina Navratilova, an 18-time singles Grand Slam champion and activist, criticised Imran Khan for his remark on rising rape cases in Pakistan. (Source: Reuters, AP)

Former world no. 1 tennis player Martina Navratilova Thursday took to social media to criticise Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for his remark blaming the ‘vulgar’ clothing of women for the rise in rape cases in the country.

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Earlier this week, the 1992 World Cup winning captain for Pakistan on a live television show said that sexual violence was a product of ‘obscenity,’ which he described as a western import. His comments have received backlash across Pakistan as women’s rights activists have been quick to criticise his actions. The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, according to The New York Times, called for an apology and deemed Khan’s remarks “unacceptable behaviour on the part of a public leader”.

Navratilova, an 18-time singles Grand Slam champion and activist, similarly criticised Khan on a Twitter post: “This deserves a big F U Imran. You really do know better than this, but clearly you are not better than this…shame on you.”

What did Imran Khan say?

Pakistan has reportedly seen a rise in rape cases across the country. During the live television show, Khan was asked how his government was planning to tackle the problem. He responded by claiming the victims were responsible by wearing “vulgar” clothing.

“What is the concept of purdah?” the 68-year-old said of the practice of women concealing their dress. “It is to stop temptation. Not every man has willpower. If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences.”

The Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday released a statement claiming Khan had been misquoted. “The prime minister spoke about the societal responses and the need to put our efforts together to eliminate the menace of rape completely,” the statement read, as reported by NYT.

“Unfortunately, part of his comment, consciously or unconsciously, has been distorted to mean something that he never intended.”

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What did Navratilova mean by ‘you really do know better than this’?

Navratilova alluded to the fact that Khan is a recipient of high-quality education – he’s an Oxford University graduate – and his storied cricketing career took him across the world where he experienced different cultures.

It’s for this reason his former wife Jemima Goldsmith hoped that he had been misquoted. “The Imran I knew used to say, ‘Put a veil on the man’s eyes not on the woman’,” she wrote in a Twitter post after Khan’s appearance on the television segment.

She also tweeted a passage from the Holy Quran: “’Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts.’ Quran 24:31

“The onus is on men.”

Another former wife, Reham Khan, tweeted, “the less he speaks the better it will be for all.”

Is this the first time Imran Khan’s been pulled up for something he’s said?

In June last year, Khan had been criticised for calling former Al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden a ‘martyr’.

“I will never forget how we Pakistanis were embarrassed when the Americans came into Abbottabad and killed Osama Bin Laden, martyred him,” Khan had said, according to the BBC.

Why did Imran Khan’s remarks irk Navratilova?

Navratilova, 64, has been active on social media and has been a keen supporter of causes pertaining to, but not limited to, the LGBTQ community, the Black Lives Matter movement and women’s rights.

She has been vocal in her criticism of former US President Donald Trump and his supporters, and the storming of Capitol Hill in January.

Her actions now are all in line of what she did during her playing days as well. Navratilova, along with Billie Jean King, was one of the first tennis players to come out as openly gay. This was in 1981, shortly after she defected from the erstwhile Czechoslovakia to become an American citizen.

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