The state leader of a major Indian political party came under fire for saying that women who have sex outside of marriage should be hanged -- rape victims including.
Abu Azmi, the leader of the socialist Samajawadi party of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, also said that “the woman is guilty” when it comes to rape.
“Rape is punishable by hanging in Islam. But here, nothing happens to women, only to men. Even [though] the woman is guilty," Azmi explained to the newspaper Mid-Day.
The party leader went on to add that women in India “complain” about men who rape them.
“Girls complain when someone touches them, and even when someone doesn't touch them. It becomes a problem then, and the man's honor is ruined in this. If rape happens with or without consent, it should be punished as prescribed in Islam."
Azmi said that the solution was that all women who have sex outside of marriage—whether it be consensual or forced—should be hanged.
"Solution is this: any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn't be allowed even if a woman goes by consent," Azmi said.
It wasn’t the first shocking statement of the week by a leader of the Samajwadi party: 74-year-old party leader and three-time chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, told those assembled at a rally in the city of Moradabad that “men make mistakes” and shouldn’t be given the death penalty for rape.
“First girls develop friendship with boys. Then when differences occur [between them], they [the girls] level rape charges,” Yadav said. “Boys commit mistakes. Should they really be hanged for rape?”
The comments drew an angry outcry from activists.
Poornima Advani, a former head of the government’s National Commission for Women, asked Yadav to issue a “public apology,” while Ranjana Kumari, director of the woman’s advocacy group Centre for Social Research noted that by referring to rape as only a “small mistake,” Yadav was encouraging it.
"People should feel scared before even thinking of committing such crimes but [through] this type of a comment, he is encouraging rapists. Women should boycott his political party to teach him a lesson,” Kumari said.