Voices Thursday, June 05, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | April 10, 2014| 7.06 pm IST Mulayam Singh Yadav has condoned the new rape laws. “Boys will be boys” says the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), who has ambitions of becoming India’s next Prime Minister as the world’s largest democracy votes. Forty eight hours earlier, his friend-turned-foe Azam Khan said Indian soldiers who died in the Kargil war against Pakistan were Muslims. While the full implications of what he has said will be debated till the buffaloes come home, it bears repetition that condoning rape as a pastime for boys en route to adolescence is a slap on India’s face at a time when the country has voted in rape laws. Yadav’s son Akhilesh Yadav is the current Chief Minister of UP, one of India’s most populous states, home to the most number of Indian heads of government. The elder Yadav’s views on rape also comes at a time when politicians across India – men and women – vocally and tacitly throw up their hands in manufactured helplessness when the word “rape” is mentioned. India’s new rape laws were written following the December 2012 rape and death of a student of physiotherapy trying to make her way home after watching a movie with her friend. So violent was her rape and eventual death that a shocked, stunned and terrified India named her Nirbhaya – the fearless. She hailed from Baliya in UP. Advocating a change in the new rape laws, Mulayam spoke at a rally in Moradabad- "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." His audience cheered him. Maybe Mulayam Singh just wants to speak about Uttar Pradesh and likes to believe that rapes in his state, rapes are by boys who commit mistakes. But we have some statistics that Mr Mulayam Singh should know about. State statistics from the year 2012 show that Uttar Pradesh comes third in terms of crimes against women: Uttar Pradesh also stands third in the number of rapes reported in 2011 and 2012. In 2010, it was at number six. There were 1963 rape cases registered in 2012. The state registered 2244 cases of Dowry deaths in the year 2012. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2011 says Uttar Pradesh highest number of reported cases of Kidnapping & Abduction (7,525) and Dowry Deaths (2,322). This report by the BBC in 2011 chronicles how rapes in UP were not just increasing in number, but also becoming more brutal. Read BBC: Rape and murder in Uttar Pradesh.