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NCP lady leader in rape row

New Delhi, Jan. 29 (Reuters): An NCP leader who is a member of the Maharashtra Women’s Commission has suggested that rape victims may have invited attacks by their clothes and behaviour.

Asha Mirje has been summoned by the commission to explain her comments and may appear tomorrow or on Friday, sources said.

In her comments made at an event yesterday, Mirje had questioned why the 23-year-old physiotherapy student gang-raped on a bus in Delhi in 2012 was out late at night.

Mirje asked if the girl “really had to go to watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend”. The student died and thousands took to the streets in nation-wide protests.

Mirje also commented on the gang rape of a photojournalist who was on assignment at the abandoned Shakti Mills compound in Mumbai last year, asking why the victim had gone to such an isolated place.

“Rapes take place also because of a woman’s clothes, her behaviour and her presence at inappropriate places,” she said. Women must be “careful”, she said, and think if they are inviting assault.

The comments come after a series of sexual assaults in recent months, including the alleged gang rape of a 20-year-old woman in Bengal’s Birbhum on the orders of a village court last week.

NCP MP and party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, who was present at the event where Mirje made the comments, said they reflected her personal views, not those of the party. “She (Mirje) did make a mistake. She should not have said it,” Sule said.

But women’s groups poured scorn. “It’s unconscionable that people in public posts make such remarks,” Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, said.