Modi urges lawmakers to stop 'politicising rape'

By AFP
Published: June 11, 2014
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PHOTO: AFP/FILE

PHOTO: AFP/FILE

NEW DELHI: India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urged lawmakers to stop fighting over rape and work together to protect women, in his first comments on the issue since the horrific gang-rape and lynching of two girls.

Modi warned lawmakers against “politicising rape”, saying they were “playing with the dignity of women” in his first speech to parliament since sweeping to power at last month’s elections.

Modi singled out the rape and murder last month of the two girls, aged 12 and 14, in Uttar Pradesh, where a political row has erupted as anger mounts over the state government’s handling of the attacks.

Modi said lawmakers must work to end attacks, which women’s groups claim have reached “epidemic” levels despite mass protests over the fatal gang-rape of a student in Delhi in December 2012.

“Governments will have to work strictly against this, else our own souls will not forgive us,” Modi told parliament as lawmakers thumped their desks in agreement.

“That’s why I appeal to all state ministers, all ministers please stop politicising rape.”

“Does it suit us to make comments on such incidents, can we not be quiet?

“We are playing with the dignity of women.”

“Respect for women, their security – it should be the priority for all 1.2 billion people.”

The appeal comes after a string of politicians including from his own Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made controversial comments over the attacks on the girls which further inflamed public anger.

A minister from central Chhattisgarh state said on the weekend that “these kind of incidents happen accidentally.”

Last week, a minister from Madhya Pradesh state said rapes were “sometimes right, sometimes wrong.”

The girls were found hanging from a mango tree in their impoverished village with tests showing they had been raped multiple times.

Their families claimed police initially failed to take action because they were from a low caste.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, under fire over his handling of the case, accused the families on the weekend of coming under the influence of a rival political party, a claim they have denied.

When also asked by reporters about a sharp rise in rape cases in the country’s most populous state, Yadav replied: “It’s not as if you faced any danger.”

The head of Uttar Pradesh’s ruling party, who is also Yadav’s father, sparked uproar during the recent election campaign when he said rapists should not receive the death penalty because “boys will be boys”.

India toughened its laws on sex attacks in the wake of the 2012 gang-rape of the student on a bus in Delhi which triggered outrage, but they have done little to stem the tide of violence.

Also in Uttar Pradesh, the body of a 45-year-old woman was found hanging from a tree on Wednesday, with her family claiming she had been raped and murdered.

A police officer said they were questioning five men over the incident in Bahraich district and were waiting for post-mortem results to determine if she had been raped.

“They (her husband and son) have alleged that the woman, before being strung up from the tree, was raped and murdered by these men,” district superintendent Happy Guptan told AFP.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Raj - USA
    Jun 11, 2014 - 8:04PM

    Only Modi can issue such a clear warning to all law makers. No one else, including powerful woman Chief Ministers of many states have so much courage and clarity.

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  • Rahim
    Jun 11, 2014 - 9:56PM

    “[O]ur own souls will not forgive us.” Jeez, he speaks like such a newbie. Modi needs to take a lesson from a seasoned, upper-crust politician like Nawaz Sharif on how to give a speech.

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  • Manoj
    Jun 11, 2014 - 11:03PM

    Not just because the victims were of low caste, but(also) because the culprits were all Yadavs(low caste too), like the CM. Not against Yadavs,but this isn’t Akhilesh/Mulayam’s favour for Yadav repute. UP was much safer under Mayawati(though she was corrupt & obsessed with statues). There were less rapes,murders,etc & also very less communal riots, unlike the more ‘secular’ Samajwadi party. Under her there were a record 400 ‘fake’ encounters,which are quite necessary(while keeping an eye on political abuse). In their appeasement SP encourages criminal elements among its voter base. Now UP is really Goonda Raj.Recommend

  • lol
    Jun 11, 2014 - 11:49PM

    @Raj – USA: true……. never have i seen………( even though i am a modi critic)

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  • Malik Tariq
    Jun 12, 2014 - 12:15AM

    Brutality and crimes against women have become an epidemic in the subcontinent, where they are treated in some places worse than cattle and sheep. There should be a death penalty for rape and acid attacks and all such cases should be tried in Anti Terrorist courts.

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  • Mr sunny loni
    Jun 12, 2014 - 12:51AM

    Would MNS or IK ever issue such a statement?they would probably look for a scapegoat. However we might criticise Modi but one has to admire his straight talk .

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  • ModiFied
    Jun 12, 2014 - 2:02AM

    Listening to Modi’s speech has become like listening to the sermons of some saintly man for me. Its such a feel good factor when I listen to him. He rarely talks negative. I put him in “Karma Yogi” category. I am very sure India is heading for a real make over. Within two weeks the Modi government has gained full momentum.

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  • Mega
    Jun 12, 2014 - 11:15AM

    World’s focus has shifted to sub continent whether it is honour killing, rapes, human trafficking or child labour. Though women rape crime ratio wise are higher in america and uk than the sub continent. We are still in focus not them, bizarre. Because we create more cue and cry than them I guess. Don’t know about them but we need to improve and fight the menace in our society. The world has to realise we have our limitation,ain’t developed country like them. Don’t have Good policing, infrastructure, equipment and high quality training to deal with any crime. Most are lax, prejudiced, corrupt pawns of politicians who work for them not people. The place where Pakistan lacks is no stringent laws. Many loop holes that case goes against woman along with society stigma. That’s why very few woman come out to complain. In india we have made stringent laws, vibrant civil society that’s fight back and fast track court recently, but we need to advertise such laws and repercussion it in rural areas and tv where these thugs are yet to realise the consequences. They feel they can’t get away with it. Specially in village or poor areas where woman might keep quiet. This needs to change. That can only come with practical implementation of laws, sending strong msg you can’t get away from it.. We will catch you. Once that fear is built the crime rate will come down.

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  • f
    Jun 12, 2014 - 11:43AM

    Modi is truly an exemplary leader. He had a track record. He wants to do things for his nation. He may havr wanted to put muslims in their place but lets leave that to him and his people.
    Pakistan should act straight and be a responsible neighbor.
    Not only are women abused in India they along with children are probably worse off in Pakistan.
    We have horrible laws that expose women to horrible dangers.
    lets see if our rulers have the gut to fix this….

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