| Abu Asim Azmi |
Mumbai, April 11: Abu Asim Azmi, the Samajwadi Party’s Maharashtra chief, has said that women who indulge in consensual sex outside marriage should be hanged, drawing angry reactions from women’s activists and Bollywood celebrities.
Azmi’s comments first came in an interview to a Mumbai tabloid published this morning, but he repeated the remarks to news channels. Yesterday, Samajwadi boss Mulayam Singh Yadav had said that rapes sometimes happen because “boys make mistakes”, so it was wrong to hang people for rape.
Reacting to Mulayam’s comments at a Moradabad rally, Azmi said: “No parents in our Indian culture would agree if their daughter goes out with another man, and indulges in something wrong. But… if a girl does it, she will be awarded the death penalty. What I mean is that if there’s rape, then there should be punishment. But on the other hand… if two people go to a hotel and have sex with consent, even that should be banned. They should be punished with death by hanging.”
Azmi’s comments sparked off angry reactions on social media. His restaurateur-son Farhan Azmi, who is the Samajwadi candidate against Priya Dutt from Mumbai North Central, and daughter-in-law Ayesha Takia distanced themselves from the comments, saying they were “embarrassed and ashamed”.
“If wot I am reading about my father in laws statements r true then me and Farhan are deeply embarrassed n ashamed... We surely do nottt share this mindset... its disrespectful to women. if these statements r true then its sad,” tweeted Ayesha, the model-turned-actress who has starred in several films, including Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dor.
More reactions poured in on social media on both comments. Film-maker Onir tweeted: “He should be IMMEDIATELY ARRESTED SHOCKING — Women having sex should be hanged, says Abu Azmi.”
Actor-director Farhan Akhtar, who launched the social campaign Men Against Rape and Discrimination after the 2012 Delhi gangrape, tweeted: “Cannot get over MS Yadav’s comment on rapists -- ‘Boys will be boys. They make mistakes’. It’s pathetic. Abu Azmi meanwhile, wants to hang women who willingly have sex. I think he needs to hang up his boots & seek medical attention ASAP.”
Actor Arjun Rampal tweeted: “The comments by our political giants on rape victims is down right appalling. Let those boys make the same mistakes on their mothers and sisters.” Actress Divya Dutta said: “But with no bias, why is everyone slapping Kejriwal! Why don’t they dare it with a few others?”
Actress Shruti Seth echoed her: “Are the leaders of the Samajwadi Party playing tag in making stupid comments? They seem to be on a roll. Someone slap them please.”
Director Sanjay Gupta said: “Mulayam Singh and Abu Azmi. Regressive, redundant and retarded thinking. Absolute shame! Are they looking for votes of rapists?”
Actress Amrita Puri tweeted: “There is something intrinsically wrong with the mindset of Indians if leaders like Abu Azmi can make such regressive public statements. People like Abu Azmi just go to show what a long way India has to go for women’s liberation and empowerment to become a reality.”
Azmi later issued a clarification saying his remarks were made in the context of an increasing number of complaints where women have consensual relationships and later lodge fake rape complaints.
Samajwadi spokesperson Abdul Qadir Chaudhary said in a statement that the party opposes all forms of exploitation of women, and has always fought for women’s respect, safety and protection.
Shiv Sena spokesperson Neemal Gorhe said: “There can be debates about whether death penalty should be given under 376 E, or fake rape complaints, but gang rapes cannot be termed a mistake. Mulayam Singh Yadav has been trying to divide votes on the basis of religion. Now he’s sending the message to women voters that he’s with the rapists.”