Spiritual leader Asaram Bapu’s comments on the Delhi gang rape have been criticised by several political parties and women’s organisations.

Expressing shock over the comments, senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Brinda Karat said: “It is the most bizarre and highly insensitive statement and a caricature of what religious leaders have become today. It also shows his ignorance and gives us a glimpse of the various challenges that we will have to overcome to ensure security for women in the country. Previously, religious leaders also spoke of social reform and today there are so many of them arrested and in jail for sexual assault against women.”

Kavita Srivastava of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) said: “It is people like Asaram who want to keep women subjugated. Instead of talking about aggressive masculinity, he is simply blaming the victim.”

Denouncing the remarks, the Rajasthan Women’s Commission Chairperson Laad Kumari Jain told The Hindu: “This shows the typical patriarchal mindset. Why is he preaching what the girl should have done. Why doesn’t he ask the men to behave. We should also not forget how even the so-called godmen have in several instances abused their women followers.”

National Commission for Women member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar said: “It is a very insensitive comment and not worth reacting. The comment reflects his ignorance and it seems like he is seeking cheap publicity.”

Centre for Social Research director Ranjana Kumari said: “This kind of statement can only come from a perverted mind. It is a ridiculous statement where the victim is being blamed for rape and the rapist is being indirectly protected. We should socially boycott this man.’’

Nishat Hussain, convener of the National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society said: “He has crossed all limits. Of all the statements made on this issue, these are the most shameful and dangerous. And this when he has a mass female following.”

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