A member of the Maharashtra Commission for Women from the Nationalist Congress Party kicked up a major controversy on Wednesday by suggesting that a woman's clothes and her behaviour are also responsible for rape.
Dr Asha Mirge, a gynaecologist from Akola, said that girls should be mindful of their body language and attire so that they “don’t invite the attention of potential rapists”.
She also asked why the Delhi gangrape victim had gone out for a late night movie show.
"Girls should be very careful about what they wear and at what time they move out in city. Their body language should not invite attention of the potential rapists lurking around in the streets," Mirge said at NCP's youth wing convention on Tuesday. where she shared the dais with party chief Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule.
"Why should Nirbhaya go for a late night movie show at 11 pm? Why should a photo journalist in Mumbai go to an isolated place like Shakti Mills at 6 pm? Girls should always remain alert," said Mirge while responding to a question by a young participant about women's safety.
She also advised girls to introspect about what they wear and their hair style.
An embarrassed Sule later admitted that what Mirge said was inappropriate.
"We are absolutely a gender-equal party. We want every man or woman to get security, have the freedom to travel to any village, taluka and city safely at any time of the day," said Sule, the NCP Member of Parliament from Baramati.
Mirge later admitted her mistake and apologised.
"I am not a politician and my intention was not to hurt anyone. I express my regret."
Sule pleaded for the matter to be closed after Mirge voiced her regret.
"Mr Pawar (Union Minister Sharad Pawar) was the first person who got women's rights endorsed in Maharashtra. We gave women 50 per cent reservation. Our party is very pro-women," she said.
Asked why she did not interrupt Mirge's speech when she was seated right next to her, Sule said," The manners that I have learnt from my parents as a child is that while somebody is making a speech, one should not interrupt. Once she had completed what she had to say, I made my intervention.
"She is older than me, she is my mother's age. She was speaking about what she felt was appropriate. I wanted for her to finish her speech and then I made my intervention which is on record and can be verified. Many TV channels were present there," she said.