KARACHI: Activists in India slammed Asaram Bapu, a so-called spiritual leader, over his comments regarding the Delhi gang-rape victim, reports in the Indian media said.
Asaram had stated that the 23-year-old gang-rape victim was "equally responsible for the crime and the girl could have called her assailants brothers and begged them to stop", a report published in the Hindustan Times said.
The girl was gang-raped on the night of Dec16 and had died nearly a fortnight later at a Singapore hospital.
In a recent address to his followers, Asaram had said that when the girl had encountered the men "she should have taken God's name and could have held the hand of one of the men and said I consider you as my brother and should have said to the other two 'Brother I am helpless, you are my brother, my religious brother.' She should have taken God's name and held their hands and feet...then the misconduct wouldn't have happened".
"Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti hai (mistake is not committed from one side)," he had stated in his address.
"The accused were drunk. If the girl had chanted hymns to goddess Saraswati and to Guru Diksha then she wouldn't have entered the bus...," he had said.
In the wake of the comments, activists have demanded that India's religious and political leaders be held answerable for their statements.
All India Democratic Women’s Association’s Sudha Sundaraman condemned the remarks and advocated stern punishment against leaders making irresponsible statements, the Times of India stated in a report published Tuesday.
Sundaraman termed the statements “highly objectionable, regressive and anti-women”.
“Such people should be called to question. This is further victimisation of the victim and deeply insulting to women,” the Times of India quoted Sundaraman as saying.
The statements were also condemned by Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research.
Kumari said such "irresponsible and ridiculous statements were responsible for encouraging rapists."
"Such people should be socially boycotted. It is these people who are responsible in society for creating misogynist values," the Times of India quoted Kumari as saying.
The statements were also condemned by activist lawyer Brinda Grover, social scientist Imtiaz Ahmad, academic Ayesha Kidwai and lawyer Kirti Singh.