Women are themselves to be blamed for the recent spate of rapes in the country, if one goes by the comment of a female Indian official of a state women’s commission.
Asha Mirge of the provincial Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and member of the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission said, “rapes take place also because of a woman's clothes, her behaviour and her being at inappropriate places," reports quoting her said on Wednesday.
The female official said women have to be “careful”. “...We have to ask ourselves, where am I going, with whom am I going, what am I going for, do I really need to go to that place," reports quoted her saying.
Mirge, referring to the December 16, 2012, gang-rape of a Delhi medical student that caused unprecedented outrage, questioned why the girl was out at night with her boy friend to see a movie.
Commenting on the gang-rape of a photojournalist at the abandoned Shakti Mills in the commercial hub Mumbai in August 2013, Mirge asked why the girl needed to go to such an isolated spot.
"Did Nirbhaya (the Delhi rape victim) really have to go to watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend? Take the Shakti Mills gang-rape case. Why did the (survivor) go to such an isolated spot at 6 pm?" reports quoted her asking.
Mirge was talking to women members of the NCP in Maharashtra state’s Nagpur city, 840km from Mumbai on Tuesday.
Mirge, attemping to pre-empt criticism over her comments, in an interview to a television channel on Wednesday said her views were personal. She also apologised in the event her comments hurt someone.
Remarks, similar to the one made by Mirge, have in the past evoked widespread condemnation, particularly from women’s groups.
Mirge’s comments come at a time when India is reeling from a spate of high-profile rape cases.
The resulting outrage and protests have shaken the establishment and governments have been forced to show they are acting to bring culprits to book.
In the process, federal laws have been amended and new rules have been institutionalised across the country to act as deterrent.