A Goa minister on Thursday dubbed five men who allegedly gang-raped two female tourists from Delhi this week as “naive” and “small-time criminals”, joining the growing league of politicians to make controversial comments on the sensitive issue of crimes against women.
The women, aged 28 and 34, were travelling by taxi when the accused abducted them posing as officers of the anti-narcotics cell of police and sexually assaulted them at a flat in north Goa’s Anjuna beach, officials said.
“The boys are ‘nadaan’ (naive) and have cases of small crimes registered against them. This will not happen in the future,” state tourism minister Dilip Parulekar told reporters, while expressing regret over the incident. “Those who did this were of bad character. They worked in hotels and there are cases of theft registered against them. Police acted swiftly in this case and apprehended the culprits within six to seven hours.”
India brought in more stringent laws two years ago against sexual offenders after the fatal gang-rape of a student in the Capital in December 2012, but they have failed to stem the tide of violence against women across the country, while politicians keep coming up with bizarre excuses and theories.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav faced outrage after saying the death penalty for rape was unfair and boys make mistakes, while President Pranab Mukherjee’s son and lawmaker Abhijit Mukherjee called the anti-rape protesters “highly dented and painted” women, a reference to their make-up.
The two women told police they were raped through Monday night and Tuesday before being rescued. Authorities reached the spot after the driver of the taxi the women were travelling in lodged a complaint.
“Tourists should not think that these things are common in Goa,” Parulekar said.
The state, a top beach tourism destination in India, attracts over three million visitors annually.
Parulekar’s controversial comment comes after another Goa minister, Deepak Dhavalikar, this year blamed mounting instances of rape in India on women straying from Hindu culture to embrace Western wear and lifestyle.