Shamina Shafique, National Commission for Women member, has described as “absolutely shocking” Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh’s statement that rapes are mistakes committed by boys and does not warrant hanging as prescribed in the amended anti-rape legislation. At an election rally in Moradabad on Thursday, Mr. Singh said if voted to power, his party would change the law.
Ms. Shafique said the commission had the power to take up the matter and issue notice after going through the video recording. “We can also seek a report from the State government,” she said. “Whether hanging is justified or not can be a personal opinion but his opinion on crimes against women is shocking.”
“We have been told Shehzad Poonawala, a Delhi-based lawyer and social commentator, has filed a complaint with the commission, but we will check it only on Friday since the office is closed today,” she told The Hindu.
All-India Mahila Congress president Shobha Ojha said no-one should speak about rape in such a flippant manner as the violation not only amounted to physical abuse but also mental torture that left the victim scarred for life.
Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research said Mr. Singh’s attitude towards women had always been patriarchal.
He had no respect for women, one of the reasons for the prevailing law-and-order situation in Uttar Pradesh. Women should give a befitting reply to him by voting against the Samajwadi Party. “Such statements are reprehensible and condemnable,” she said.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All-India Progressive Women’s Association, said the Samajwadi Party had no principled stand on the death penalty or gender justice. “Women’s groups, too, have opposed the death penalty but Mulayam Singh has trivialised rape and essentially said rape is a mistake and not a crime,” she said.
Renu D. Singh, women’s rights activist in Meerut, said: “It is the worst insult on women of this country. Mr. Singh must be sick to advocate leniency for the brats who first befriend young innocent girls, have sex with them by promising marriage and then throw them out of their lives and sometimes even kill them.”
Alka Sharma, another social activist, asked Mr. Singh to immediately apologise to the women of the country as he had insulted them.