Reham Khan hits out at ex-husband Imran over his rape comments
Reham Khan, the second wife of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, has branded him a ‘rape apologist’ as she lashed out at him for suggesting the way women dress is responsible for rape.
Ms Khan, who was married to the cricketing playboy-turned Pakistani leader between October 2014 and October 2015, told MailOnline that her ex was ‘clueless’ about women’s issues when she met him and described him as a ‘hypocrite’.
The former BBC presenter – who was keen to point out that Khan is her family name and she did not take her husband’s name when they married – also accused her ex-husband of ‘failing miserably’ in his duty to set a role model for men.
She went on to dismiss claims from his office that his words were ‘misconstrued’, saying the remarks are ‘nothing new’ and that he should publicly apologise for them.
‘If you’re in the public domain and you say something like this, it is rape apology, and that is unacceptable,’ she said.
‘This is too frequent. He should apologise and seek some sort of training. There need to be lessons given to the Prime Minister.’
Ms Khan also accused her ex-husband of ‘using religion, particularly Islam’ to secure votes in conservative Pakistan while attacking things such as divorce – despite being twice divorced himself.
She spoke out after Jemima Goldsmith, who was also married to Khan from 1995 until 2004 and has two children with him, tweeted out a passage from the Koran as a rebuke, adding: ‘The onus is on men.’
Reham Khan, who married Pakistani PM Imran Khan between 2014 and 2015, has branded him a ‘rape apologist’ after he suggested women should dress modestly to avoid being attacked
Ms Khan said her ex-husband was ‘clueless’ about sexual violence when they met, his views are ‘nothing new’ and that he is a ‘hypocrite’ for blaming divorce when he is twice-separated
Reham Khan, the second ex-wife of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran, joined criticism of his remarks on rape today – saying ‘the less he speaks the better it will be’
Khan caused fury at the weekend when he suggested during a Q&A session that ‘vulgarity’ was to blame for rising sexual violence, singling out Bollywood, Hollywood, divorce, and the ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ culture of England in the 70s as examples of moral decline.
He then praised the Islamic concept of purdah – or modesty – as an antidote to that decline, saying it is important to ‘keep temptation in check’.
Ms Khan – whose short marriage to Imran crumbled under pressure from family in-fighting, media attacks and her own political ambitions – said the remarks infuriated her but did not come as a surprise.
Recalling her first meeting with Khan, who was then in political opposition, she said the two had discussed women’s issues as something she was passionate about
Ms Khan said she mentioned the notorious New Delhi bus rape which happened in neighbouring India not long before, but Imran had no idea about it.
‘He was completely clueless,’ she said. ‘I looked from him to his chief of staff, I felt awkward that I would be explaining to him.
‘I explained to him, I gave a little bit of detail, and he turns around and says: ‘This is all because of Bollywood you know.’
‘I was shocked, thought he was just clueless and ill-informed.’
She said he made similar comments during their marriage and has given speeches since espousing the same ideas, seemingly without any sense of irony given his past.
‘The hypocrisy of it is unforgivable,’ she added. ‘What I found most upsetting is that he’s equating divorce with rape and with not covering up.
‘For him to say that divorce is a problem in the West… he is twice divorced himself, the mother of his children is a westernised English lady.
‘The woman he is married to now went through divorce in order to get married to him. It’s just disrespectful to the women in his life.’
Speaking about the damage Imran’s comments could cause in Pakistan, Ms Khan said he has a ‘responsibility’ to set a better example.
‘His hairstyle is copied, the way he speaks is copied, everything he says…
‘It’s the responsibility to men to be a role model, and to tell young men, particularly in India and Pakistan, that this is not acceptable.
‘He has a huge responsibility to end these attitudes.He had this responsibility before he was prime minister, and even more so now he is prime minister.
‘He is really failing miserably at that.’
Twice-divorced Khan, one of the best cricketers of all time, was no stranger to scantily-clad women as he partied in VIP nightclubs during his bachelor life in London in the 1980s and 90s.
It comes after Jemima Goldsmith, his first ex-wife, tweeted out a passage of the Koran contradicting his views – saying the ‘onus is on men’ to stop sex attacks
His socialite ex-wife Ms Goldsmith took to Twitter to hit back at the comments, quoting the Koran and adding: ‘The onus is on men’
Imran Khan with fashion guru and journalist Susannah Constantine, who he dated before marrying Jemima Goldsmith in 1995
Imran Khan holds his newborn son Sulaiman beside his wife Jemima as they take part in the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of holy fasting month of Ramadan in Lahore in 1997
The Oxford-educated public schoolboy famously dated fashion guru Susannah Constantine before marrying glamorous socialite Ms Goldsmith in 1995.
The pair had two sons before their split nine years later, which was in part attributed to the difficulties she faced in Pakistan where she was hounded for her family’s Jewish ancestry.
Khan’s second marriage came to the public’s attention in 2014 after Jemima suddenly changed her name back to Goldsmith explaining that her ex husband planned to remarry.
In January 2015 it was confirmed that he had married Reham, a former BBC weathergirl and presenter, in a small private ceremony in Pakistan.
It was later revealed that some of Imran’s family had refused to attend, believing she was not a suitable bride.
Meanwhile Pakistani media criticised Reham for her westernised style of dress, her outspoken political views, and status as a divrocee.
Eventually the pressure became too much and the pair split in October the same year, with Imran later describing the marriage as ‘the worst decision of my life’.
Reflecting on the break-up in November, Reham told The Guardian: ‘It was no one but us who were responsible for the relationship’s breakdown.
‘It happened because we allowed it to happen. In the absence of any serious differences of opinion or unreasonable demands, if a bond breaks that easily, it means it has not been cemented together with strong communication.
‘Conjecture about what the reason was, who was behind it and when it was triggered is pointless.’
His current wife and the First Lady, Bushra Wattoo, was married in a conservative ceremony in Pakistan in 2018, which saw her face totally shrouded in line with Islamic orthodoxy.
She had previously been married to Khawar Maneka, a senior customs official and son of Ghulam Muhammad Maneka, a former federal minister in Benazir Bhutto’s cabinet, before the pair split in 2017.
Thousands of people have signed an online statement which called Khan’s comments on rape ‘factually incorrect, insensitive and dangerous’.
‘Fault rests solely with the rapist and the system that enables the rapist, including a culture fostered by statements such as those made by (Khan),’ the statement said.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent rights watchdog, said Tuesday it was ‘appalled’ by the comments.
Ms Khan was a BBC presenter before she married Imran, a year-long union that crumbled under pressure from his family, conservatives in Pakistan, and her outspoken views
Elizabeth Hurley and Khan during their visit at the earthquake affected area in Balakot, the town of country North West Frontier Province on March 16, 2006
Pictured: Imran Khan seen with model Marie Helvin
‘Not only does this betray a baffling ignorance of where, why and how rape occurs, but it also lays the blame on rape survivors, who, as the government must know, can range from young children to victims of honour crimes,’ it said.
Pakistan is a deeply conservative country where victims of sexual abuse are often viewed with suspicion and criminal complaints are rarely seriously investigated.
Much of the country lives under an ‘honour’ code where women who bring ‘shame’ on the family can be subjected to violence or murder.
It regularly ranks among the worst places in the world for gender equality.
Data shows that 11 rapes are reported in the country each day, which is thought to be only a fraction of the total, Geo News reported.
Of the 22,000 rapes reported in Pakistan in the last six years, just 77 people have been convicted as a result – a rate of 0.3 per cent which ranks among the lowest in the world.
In February, the forensics department of Khyber Medical College University caused outrage when it suggested that women should be charged for post-rape examinations that help secure convictions.
Nationwide protests erupted last year when a police chief admonished a gang-rape victim for driving at night without a male companion.
The Franco-Pakistani mother was assaulted in front of her children on the side of a motorway after her car ran out of fuel.
Last year, Khan was also criticised after another television appearance where he failed to challenge a Muslim cleric’s insistence that coronavirus had been unleashed because of the wrongdoings of women.
The latest controversy comes as the organisers behind International Women’s Day marches battle what they have called a coordinated disinformation campaign against them, including doctored images and videos circulated online.
It has led to blasphemy accusations – a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan where allegations have previously led mobs to attack people.
The organisers of the annual rally have called for the prime minister to intervene.
Imran Khan and US actress Jerry Hall, left, and with his ex-fiancee Kristiane Backer
Imran Khan and the Marquis of Worcester and an unknown woman at Annabel’s nightclub in London
In his weekend TV appearance, Khan also blamed divorce rates in Britain on the ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ culture that began in the 1970s, when the twice-divorced Khan was gaining a reputation in London as a playboy.
In December, Pakistan brought in new laws that will see some rapists chemically castrated.
The introduction of the law came after huge public outcry at the rise in rapes, but activists have cautioned that a change in laws will not solve the problem without an accompanying change in social attitudes.
Much of Pakistan lives under an ‘honour’ code where women who bring ‘shame’ on the family can be subjected to violence or murder and it regularly ranks among the worst places in the world for gender equality.
One of the country’s most high-profile criminal cases in recent years revolved around the so-called ‘honour killing’ of social media star Qandeel Baloch.
Dubbed Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian, Baloch was 26 when she was drugged and strangled to death by her brother in 2016.
He initially confessed to the murder, saying he had acted because his sister had tarnished the family’s ‘honour’. He has since changed his plea.
During her life, Baloch drew praise and derision for her refusal to conform to Pakistani gender and societal norms.
She posted photos emphasising her cleavage, twerked in videos and remained unapologetic despite admitting to receiving death threats.
Baloch’s murder, and the reaction to it, highlighted the gulf between attitudes in mainly conservative Pakistan.
Many pointed out how rare it was for a so-called ‘honour killing’ case to be pursued so vigorously, with Baloch’s brother ending up being convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
The response of authorities to rape cases is similarly patchy, with conviction rates among the lowest in the world.
Imran Khan’s wives
WIFE NUMBER ONE: JEMIMA GOLDSMITH
Jemima Goldsmith, who has now returned to her maiden name, is the eldest child of Lady Annabel Goldsmith and Sir James Goldsmith.
Jemima was just 21 years old when she met the 42-year-old Imran Khan, and the couple married in 1995 – first in an Islamic ceremony in Paris and then in a civil ceremony in Richmond, London.
Having converted to Islam, she followed her new husband to Lahore, Pakistan where she learned to speak Urdu.
Khan’s wedding to Jemima Goldsmith in Richmond, London, in 1995
The couple have two sons, Sulaiman Isa, born in 1996, and Qasim, born in 1999.
During their marriage, she established herself as a philanthropist and social campaigner, fighting for the rights of refugees, freedom of information and various political causes.
She also began working as a journalist from Pakistan, writing for various British newspapers, and set up a fashion label where the profits were donated to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, named after her mother-in-law.
During their marriage she was subjected to abuse by Imran Khan’s political opponents or those who disagreed with his involvement in politics.
After nine years of marriage, in 2004, the couple announced that they would divorce, citing Jemima’s difficulties to settle in Pakistan.
Speaking in 2011, Khan said he had realised his ex-wife may have been too young and inexperienced to cope with the challenges of his political career.
British-Pakistani Reham Khan was born in Ajdabiya, Libya in 1973
WIFE NUMBER TWO: REHAM KHAN
British-Pakistani Reham Khan was born in Ajdabiya, Libya in 1973.
After studies in Pakistan, she began working as a broadcast journalist in the UK in the mid-noughties, including as a weather presenter for BBC South Today.
After moving to Pakistan in 2012, she met Imran Khan when she interviewed him for a local TV show.
The following year, in 2013, she began presenting a news programme called NewsOne, and continued to work in TV journalism.
Her relationship with Imran Khan remained secret until the end of 2014 when Jemima Goldsmith announced she was going to return to her maiden name because Imran was going to remarry.
The couple married in January 2015 in a ceremony at his Islamabad home, but divorced ten months later.
After the divorce, Reham revealed that she – like Jemima – had been subjected to a hate campaign in Pakistan and that their marriage had not survived it.
The journalist wrote in the Guardian that she had faced ‘a barrage of abuse’ for marrying a man ‘idolised’ in his homeland by millions.
Reham Khan, who has kept her married name, writes on her website that her attention is now focused on ‘social work and humanitarian efforts in Pakistan’.
Little is known about Bushra Wattoo, a mother-of-five who divorced her first husband last year
WIFE NUMBER THREE: BUSHRA WATTOO, FIRST LADY OF PAKISTAN
Little is known about Bushra Wattoo, a mother-of-five who divorced her first husband last year.
She is said to be Imran Khan’s ‘spiritual healer’ and the pair reportedly met two years ago during an election campaign.
Wattoo, who is also known as ‘Pinki’, comes from a deeply conservative family from eastern Punjab.
Before their relationship, Khan had sought her out for spiritual healing.
Earlier this year, local media reported that Khan caused the divorce between Wattoo and her ex-husband Khawar Fareed Maneka, something which Mr Maneka later denied.
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