Maharashtra State Women's Commission member Asha Mirge on Tuesday passed a controversial statement, blaming the clothing and conduct of women for the increase in rapes in the country, and immediately faced criticism for it.
Speaking to media persons at a camp orgainsed by the youth wing of the Nationalist Congress Party in Nagpur, Mirge said, "A girl's clothing, behaviour and tendency to visit secluded places are the three reasons girls are targeted."
On the question of women's safety in the country, she cited examples of the Delhi gang rape and the Shakti Mills incident, where she asked, "What was the need of the Delhi victim to go out so late for a movie and for what reason did the Shakti Mills victim go to that secluded place with a friend?" She said both these victims were responsible for the violent sexual attacks inflicted upon them.
Her statement has come as a shocker from a member of the women's commission, which is supposed to promote gender equality and stand up for the fundamental rights of women all over the country.
Activists working towards empowerment of women expressed outrage at Mirge's statement and condemned "a thought such as this" coming from a state women's commission member.
"How does her theory explain the rape of girls only a few months or years old? They don't invite rape, still it is rampant. A person who is not sensitive to the victim of a sexual assault and tries to restrict women from their fundamental rights does not deserve to be part of the women's commission," said Avisha Kulkarni of the Desh Seva Sangh, a women and child rights group.
Chairperson of the state women's commission Sushiben Shah said, "This is the 21st century. Today, a woman who follows a profession cannot be instructed how to dress and what to do. Nonetheless, they should be a little more aware of their surroundings and be cautious. Asha must have passed the comment in her personal capacity and I will talk to her about it."