Just a week after the gang rape and murder of two teenagers, an Indian politician has said rape is “sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong.”
Babulal Gaur said on Thursday that the crime of rape can only be considered to have been committed if it is reported to police.
“This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong,“ said Gaur, the home minister responsible for law and order in the BJP-run central state of Madhya Pradesh.
"Until there's a complaint, nothing can happen," he told reporters.
This once again highlights a hostile culture for women in India – where a top policeman has said: "If you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it."
In 2011, the Thompson Reuters Foundation named India the worst place in the world for women. Records show a rape occurs every 22 minutes there, according to the AP.
The political leaders of Uttar Pradesh, the state where two cousins aged 12 and 14 were murdered last week, have faced criticism for failing to visit the scene and for accusing the media of hyping the story.
Another young woman was raped, forced to drink acid then dragged to her death in yet another sickening assault – just days after the murder of the two cousins.
Gaur’s comments are just the latest in a series of horrifying remarks made by Indian lawmakers.
In the recent election, Mulayam Singh Yadav, head of the regional Samajwadi Party that runs Uttar Pradesh, criticised legal changes that foresee the death penalty for gang rape.
"Boys will be boys," he said.
Gaur expressed sympathy for this viewpoint – but the BJP dismissed his comments as an expression of his personal views, and not the party's.
Modi, who was sworn in as prime minister last week after a landslide election victory, has so far remained silent over the double killing in the village of Katra Shahadatganj.
Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.
Much has changed in the 18 months since then - harsher laws against rape, increased media focus on sexual violence, new police units dedicated to helping women.
But, it seems, India still has a long way to go to change a culture of sexual violence.
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