DMK MLA’s comment on girl’s character sparks row

An accused in the case relating to the gang rape of a young woman here has surrendered, taking the total number held in the case to 12.

The survivor, in her early twenties, was gang-raped twice during the night of Tuesday leading up to the wee hours on Wednesday. However, a local DMK leader, A.M.H. Nazeem, tried to cast aspersions on the girl’s character in an interview to an English channel.

Speaking to the news channel, Mr. Nazeem wanted the police to check the character of the girl before filing a case. “Even I want to know the truth, one set of policemen are saying it’s a case of prostitution….then why are they filing a rape case,” the sitting DMK MLA from Karaikal South has been quoted.

Incidentally, the main accused, Nasser, is said to be a close aide of Mr. Nazeem. Most of the arrested in the gang rape case are DMK cadre, police sources said.

Nasser was earlier convicted for gang rape committed in 1994 and sentenced to three years imprisonment. The sentence was later commuted to 18 months and a fine of Rs. 5,000 in 1999, according to the case details from the SSP’s office.

Mr. Nazeem’s mobile numbers were switched off. Message left by The Hindu to his personal representative at his home number went unresponded. The DMK leader’s statement casting aspersions on a gang-rape survivor has spawned outrage among activists.

According to U. Vasuki, general secretary, All India Democratic Women’s Association, his statement amounts to “trivialising and vulgarising” a serious crime. “This is outrageous and highly condemnable. It amounts to safeguarding the accused, and indirectly justifying the crime. Even if someone is a prostitute, the woman exercises discretion, decision making and bodily integrity.”

“Amendments have broadened the Evidence Act and the definition of rape. The 2013 amendments uphold will and unequivocal consent of the survivor. It shows ignorance of the law,” she said. The MLA’s statement casting aspersions is an insult not just to rape survivors but also will of the people he represents, Ms. Vasuki told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, the Puducherry Parents and Students Welfare Association has petitioned the National Commission for Women on the case. The case is being investigated by CID-Puducherry.

“No case is filed verifying the character of the victim. A victim has given a complaint, an FIR was filed and culprits were arrested. This character assassination is condemnable. Political pressure should not derail the investigation,” Y. Balasbramaniam, president of the association, said.

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