Hours after one of their fellow members stoked controversy by suggesting that a woman’s clothes and her behaviour were also responsible for rape, Susie Shah, the chairperson of the Maharashtra Women’s Commission, tried to put the matter to rest by saying that the comments were not reflective of the body and were personal opinions of one person.
Residents protest the gang rape of the photojournalist at Shakti Mills last year. Security of women came under the scanner after a woman was gang-raped in Delhi and another was gang-raped in the heart of the city. File pic
The entire issue erupted after Dr Asha Mirge, who is a member of the Maharashtra Women’s Commission and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said that the Delhi student who was fatally gang-raped on a moving bus should not have been out late at night watching a movie. The photographer gang-raped while shooting a deserted mill in the heart of Mumbai placed herself in danger by visiting the area at 6 pm.
“Girls should be careful about what they wear. They should mind the time of their moving out. Girls’ body language should not be such that it invites attention of a potential rapist lurking around,” she said. Following her shocking remarks, she apologised for her insensitive comments.
When MiD DAY approached Shah, she first categorically stated that Mirge was not making an official statement on behalf of the team. “Mirge, who is a doctor and gynaecologist, was voicing a personal opinion at the meet. Even though I concede she was wrong, I do agree on one point that women should be aware of their surroundings.”
She further opined that as 21st century citizens of India, women had full liberty, and there was no need to give out any advice to them. Shah added that Mirge had apologised for her comment and that the media should now put it to rest.
“She made a mistake and I think the media should concentrate on what work we are doing, instead of these controversies.” “Let us keep in mind that the comments made were a personal viewpoint and a bit of tolerance should be shown by the media. She may have hurt some people, but she has apologised,” Shah said.
NCW sends notice to Mirge
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has sought an explanation from Mirge for her remarks. Taking suo motu cognisance of the remarks, the NCW said her comments were “bizarre” and the worst remarks made by anyone occupying an official position.
“She has made a bizarre and outrageous statement blaming the Delhi victim and the Shakti Mills survivor for inviting trouble and getting victimised at the hands of rapists. This gives a message that rapes happen because of women who do not follow the rules of patriarchal society,” NCW member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar said. The commission has sent a letter to her seeking an explanation within seven days, officials said.