Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has triggered a fresh row with his remarks on rape, saying that it is not “possible” for four men to sexually assault the same woman.
Yadav, who sparked outrage last year by describing rapists as boys who make “mistakes”, made the comments while addressing an official event in Lucknow on Tuesday.
“Is it even possible that four men can rape a woman? It’s not even practical. Now they will say somebody was watching, someone was there. If there are four brothers, they name all of them,” Yadav said in footage aired on TV news channels.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said he had knowledge of “many false cases of rape”. He added: “One man commits the rape and four men are named (in the case). I know of such cases.”
Mulayam says "It's not practical for four men to rape woman"
“Didn’t the same thing happen in Badaun? And what happened when the CBI investigated? The CBI said it was all false,” he said, referring to the case of two cousins, aged 14 and 15, who were allegedly gang-raped and murdered in Badaun district.
The bodies of the two girls were found hanging from a tree a day after they went missing. The incident triggered outrage and drew widespread condemnation. UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon cited the case at an event marking the International Day to End Violence Against Women.
Mulayam’s comments drew flak from several quarters with prominent activists criticising his alleged insensitivity towards women.
“There is a deep contrast between the Samajwadi Party’s gender sensitive attitude being highlighted through policies and party head Mulayam’s mindset. Such comments only highlight his insensitivity towards women victims and his sympathy for criminals,” said Roop Rekha Verma, former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University.
Madhu Garg, state president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, highlighted a gang rape charge against the nephew of an SP member. “The case involved six men—five of whom have been convicted. It seems the SP supremo himself promotes such acts,” she said.
Yadav also said some people are being on giving “negative publicity” to Uttar Pradesh. “Remember, if you tell a lie a hundred times, it becomes the truth. There are powers spreading canards about you,” he added.
“Uttar Pradesh’s population is 21 crore while that of (BJP-ruled) Madhya Pradesh is 6 crore. In Madhya Pradesh, the percentage of rape cases is 9.8 while in Uttar Pradesh, it is 2%. In Rajasthan – also ruled by the BJP – it is 7%. Don't even ask about Delhi, I live there and know what happens. So, if there is one place with the lowest number of rapes, it is Uttar Pradesh,” he said.
While campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls in April last year, Yadav had triggered outrage when he said it was unfair to award the death penalty to rapists.
“Rape ke liye phaansi dena ghalat hai, ladkon se ghalti ho jaati hai, hum satta mein aaye to kanoon mein badlav karenge (Giving death sentence for rape is not right, boys make mistakes, there will be changes to the law if we come to power),” he told a rally in Moradabad.
He had further said that boys and girls fall in love but part ways due to differences. "When their friendship ends, the girl complains she has been raped."
Mulayam's remarks had come amidst a controversy over women's security against the backdrop of the December 16, 2012 gang-rape of a paramedical student in Delhi.
The government had amended the Indian Penal Code in 2013 to give the death penalty to rapists.