Samajwadi Party’s state chief Abu Azmi is receiving brickbats from all quarters for his regressive and biased statements that women who have a physical relationship with a man should be punished by death. The party leader had said this in reaction to party head Mulayam Singh Yadav’s statement about rape, in which he had said death penalty for rape was “unfair” as “boys make mistakes”.
Apology enough? Azmi called this reporter and said his statements about punishing women for having sex without consent was a ‘slip of tongue’. Actress Ayesha Takia tweeted that she and her husband didn’t share her father-in-law’s views. File pics
Azmi had told mid-day that “koi bhi ladki shaadishuda ho, vivhahit ho ya avivahit ho, agar kisi ladke ke saath apni marzi se, ya bagair marzi se jaati hai, toh bhi phaansi honi chahiye.” (Any girl, whether married or unmarried, who has sex with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged to death). Azmi had also maintained that both the man and the woman should be sent to the gallows in a rape case, and that rape was punishable by death in Islam.
Reacting to these statements, Azmi’s daughter- in-law, actress Ayesha Takia, wrote on Twitter yesterday: “If what I am reading about my father-in-law’s statement is true, then Farhan and I are deeply embarrassed and ashamed. It’s disrespectful to women. If these statements are true, then it’s sad.”
Farhan, who is SP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Mumbai North Central, tweeted, “Objectionable!! Condemn-able!! Embarrassed!!”. He then went on to add, “An apology will certainly not hurt. Taking the higher ground will only impress the people of India. I urge my leaders to apologise for hurting (sentiments). These statements only show the generation gap between the youth and our senior leaders. Every party, household and society is fighting this.”
Social activists also lodged official complaints with the National Commission for Women (NCW) and the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Ranjana Kumari, women’s rights activist, said, “The Samajwadi Party is emerging as a party which is totally against women and their upliftment. It is shameful that they are justifying rape. Abu Azmi’s comments were also highly derogatory.”
“Not only are Azmi’s statements sexist, offensive and morally repugnant, but they are also in flagrant violation of various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 including sections 504 (insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements promoting public mischief) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, which prohibits promotion of enmity between classes and sections for reaping electoral gains,” said activist Shehzad Poonawala, who filed the complaint.
He further added, “They demonstrate the patriarchal mindset of the Samajwadi Party, which runs contrary to the narrative of women’s empowerment and equal justice set out in the Indian Constitution and international conventions to which India is party. It also demonstrates the absolute insensitivity of Azmi, to the overwhelming outpouring of public sentiment on the issue of women’s rights post-December 2012, after the brutal gang rape in Delhi.”
All India Women’s Congress (AIWC) president Shobha Oza said, “It is very unfortunate that they talk in such an insensitive manner on grave issues like rape. One should abstain from handling issues of such heinous crimes in such a manner,” Oza said.
BJP’s state treasurer Shaina NC held a press conference and said that SP’s leaders were in need of sex education. “The women of Maharashtra should boycott all candidates of Samajwadi Party and teach them a lesson and show them that women are not going to take these statements lying low,” said Shaina NC.
— Inputs from agencies
The party issued a clarification, saying they respect women and referred to the instance where they gave a ticket to Phulan Devi, who became the MP from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh.
Abu Azmi also called mid-day and said, “The statement about punishing women for having sex without consent was a slip of tongue. It’s my mistake. I would never say such a thing.”