Politician Asha Mirje stunned the world last week by blaming India’s rash of sexual violence on women’s behavior and dress. So why hasn’t Mirje been removed from the National Commission for Women?
Not just offensive and dangerously wrong, Mirje’s criticism insensitively singled out two recent victims of gang rape, questioning why they chose to be in public places at particular times of the day. One of these victims, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, is not alive to answer, after being brutally raped and tortured while on a moving bus.
Mirje's blame-the-victim mindset goes hand-in-hand with India’s recent strategy to capitalize on women’s vulnerability by making and marketing “feminine” guns. Her argument only adds to the outrage over India’s failure to enact and enforce adequate laws against sexual violence, instead trying to make women responsible for their own protection.
Although Mirje’s apology has satisfied her party’s leaders, women’s advocates say her bias against women disqualifies her from NCW membership.
Insist the National Commission for Women remove Mirje from her post.
We, the undersigned, agree that Asha Mirje’s comments disqualify her from membership on India’ National Commission for Women.
The Commission states a “mandate” of “protecting and promoting the interests of women.” But how can women’s interests be served by those who blame their dress or behavior for the violent, sexual acts committed against them?
This is not just about isolated and infrequent attacks. New Delhi alone has witnessed a rash of gang rapes and other assaults that reports say have “tarnished the reputation of the world's largest democracy.“
Even after the brutal rape and murder of the 23-year-old student triggered world-wide protest and prompted India to introduce tougher rape laws and open public debate, a 20-year old was sentenced to gang rape by a community “kangaroo court of elders” because a man from a different community proposed marriage to her.
It doesn’t seem likely that India will soon change these sexist attitudes and end these vicious acts against women, as long as those representing the Commission for Women promote the kind of mindset that fuels them.
We ask that Asha Mirje’s comments be strongly condemned and her membership in the Commission terminated.
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