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India takes safety of women very seriously: NCW chief in verbal spat with US-based writer

Writer David Josef Volodzko said he has advised his female friends to not travel to India alone. His social media post followed the alleged gang-rape of the Spanish tourist in Jharkhand

PTI New Delhi Published 04.03.24, 04:37 PM
Rekha Sharma

Rekha Sharma File picture

India takes the safety of women very seriously and the implementation of stringent laws over time is evidence of it, NCW chief Rekha Sharma said on Monday as she hit out at a US-based writer for allegedly "defaming" the country over the gang-rape of a Spanish woman in Jharkhand.

Writer David Josef Volodzko said he has advised his female friends to not travel to India alone. His X post followed the alleged gang-rape of the Spanish tourist in Jharkhand's Dumka district.

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Volodzko also referred to some incidents of abuse and harassment, including one related to a woman being groped.

"Did you ever report the incident to Police? If not than you are totally an irresponsible person. Writing only on social media and defaming whole country is not good choice," Sharma said in response in a post on X.

Volodzko, in response, said Sharma herself has faced criticism for failure to respond to complaints filed by women's rights groups over credible allegations of women being publicly stripped naked, beaten by mobs and raped in public.

"And yet here she is with the gall to accuse me of defaming India. Sharma, it is you who defame India by presiding over a group called the National Commission for Women and doing nothing about the issue...and then criticizing people like me for drawing attention to this important matter," he said.

The war of words continued to escalate.

Responding to the post, Sharma said "To vilify an entire country with a tweet is not only in poor taste but also unacceptable, as data speaks otherwise. As much as this incident needs to be condemned and perpetrators brought to justice, let me share a few statistical indicators and request you to remove this tweet." According to data, she said, over six million tourists arrive in India every year, many of them single women.

"... and they holiday safely as India takes the safety of women very seriously, evidenced by its implementation of stringent laws over time. India views sexual assault as a very serious crime, and so should countries that, until now, have not considered date rape as a criminal offense," Sharma said.

She added that NCW univocally condemns the incident in Dumka and had reached out the victim within hours of the complaint being registered.

"I would like to reiterate my point that, it is important to file an FIR when a crime is committed so that perpetrators can be caught in time. I am looking into this case personally and will extend all the help that it required from NCW," she added.

TMC Rajya Sabha MP-elect and journalist Sagarika Ghose also hit out at Sharma, saying the NCW chief had once again revealed the arrogance of power and her shocking lack of concern for women.

"A country is defamed when women are assaulted, not when such crimes are reported so that justice may be delivered and the guilty punished. The NCW is engaging in victim shaming of the most atrocious kind," Ghose said in a post.

Sharma said in reply, "Sagarika just for the sake of opposing you are writing this without proper information. @NCWIndia took suo moto immediately when Dumka incident came in light".

"My member visited and met the survival within few hours and is still there to see that all 7 accused gets arrested. I personally spoke to the survival and extended all help," she said.

Sharma also took a jibe at Ghose over the Sandeshkhali violence, saying, "By the way since you are from West Bengal did you visit Sandeshkhali and meet women complainants?"

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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