Uttar Pradesh politician Mulayam Singh Yadav has sparked outrage with his comments questioning the death sentence to three men who were convicted of two gang-rapes in Mumbai last week. “Should rape cases be punished with hanging? They are boys, they make mistakes,” he said today while campaigning for the national election.
The three men have been handed the death sentence under a new law that punishes repeat offenders; they were found guilty of gang-raping two women, a photo-journalist and a telephone operator, at the abandoned Shakti Mills in Mumbai.
“Boys and girls ….later they had differences, and the girl went and gave a statement that I have been raped. And then the poor fellows, three of them have been sentenced to death. Should rape cases lead to hanging? They are boys, they make mistakes. Two or three have been given the death sentence in Mumbai. We will try and change such laws…we will also ensure punishment of those who report false cases,” he said in Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, the state his party has governed since 2012.
A complaint has been filed against him with the Election Commission and the National Commission for Women.
The comments come at a time rising crimes against women have triggered a nationwide debate on laws and the need to change deeply-entrenched chauvinism in large parts of India.
Mr Yadav has promised in his party’s manifesto for the polls to check “the large-scale misuse” of the tougher anti-rape law introduced after the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a moving bus in Delhi in December, 2012.
When the new laws were proposed in Parliament, Mulayam Singh’s party had objected to features including stalking being made a criminal offence, arguing that they could be twisted to implicate men in fake cases.