Indian politician Mulayam Singh Yadav has come under fire for his comments at a political rally in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh: The Samajwadi Party (SP) leader thinks rapists raped by mistake. Yadav has been actively campaigning for the general elections and talking about his party’s manifesto.
He declared that the SP was against the new anti-rape law, introduced after the fatal Delhi gang-rape case. Wondering why rape convicts should be hanged, Yadav promised his party would prevent the death penalty from being given to repeat offenders.
In his speech at Moradabad, Yadav referred to the death sentence given to three convicts in the Mumbai Shakti Mills gang-rape case. Questioning the judgement, which came out last week, Yadav wanted to know if it was really necessary to hang someone convicted in a rape case. He felt they were “boys” who had made “mistakes.” The “boys” he is talking about are repeat offenders, who have been convicted for raping a telephone operator and a photo-journalist at the abandoned mill building in Mumbai.
Giving his take on what might have really transpired in such cases, Yadav hinted that the “boys and girls” might have initially had consensual sex. But later when differences cropped up between them, the girl probably decided to take revenge by making a police complaint that she was raped.
The politician did not want to stop with just reinforcing a chauvinistic system trained to always blame the girl/woman for getting raped. Yadav goes on to sympathize with the rapists, who he thought were boys who just raped by mistake. Besides vowing to change such laws, the SP leader also promised to punish those who filed “false” cases.
Unsurprisingly, Yadav’s opinions have sparked huge outrage from women’s rights activists and political parties across the country. The Indian National Congress has said that it was “unfortunate” a leader made such comments and warned that it could encourage criminals. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Subramanian Swamy has slammed Yadav for playing minority politics in a state that was only recently ravaged by riots in which scores of women were allegedly raped.
Ranjana Kumari, a popular women’s rights activist, felt that Yadav’s insensitive comments warranted his arrest, and appealed to the all Indians to boycott him and his party in the general elections. She added that besides these outrageous comments, the SP and its chief have also tried to prevent the women’s reservation bill from becoming a reality.
Complaints against Yadav have been filed with both the National Commission for Women as well as the Election Commission. Poornima Advani, former chairman of the National Commission for Women has reacted to the issue saying a public apology would do nothing to save Yadav’s image. She also called it a useless election time stunt that will only negate his electoral chances.
Mulayam Singh Yadav’s thinking that rapes were nothing more than “mistakes” on the rapists’ part provides an inkling to the deep-seated chauvinism in most parts of India. At a time when the number of crimes against women in India is rising at an alarming rate, the views of the SP chief against the anti-rape law has failed to impress.
Opinion by Aruna Iyer