Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi on Tuesday said women in Bengaluru had been molested en masse on new year’s eve because they were wearing “short clothes”, hours after the Centre condemned Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara’s similar victim-blaming comments. Azmi, like Parameshwara, claimed that the women faced repeated sexual harassment on the city’s streets because they had not conformed to “Indian culture”.
“But in these modern times, the more women are naked, the more fashionable, modern and educated they are considered. This is a blot on our culture,” he said, according to NDTV. “It’s regrettable, a case should be registered. But if we say anything against girls and boys going out together, we are called old fashioned. In Indian culture there should be propriety in how men and women meet…Women must step out with the family,” Azmi said. The SP leader also compared women with sugar, which he said will always attract ants, Firstpost reported.
The party, however, disagreed with Azmi’s analysis of the events. “It is really unfortunate that Azmi thinks like that. The party condemns it. He should apologise,” SP leader Juhie Singh told CNN-News18. National Commission for Women chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam said they had sent summons to both Azmi and Parameshwara, “ If men at this level say such things, where is nation heading?”
This is not the first time Azmi has been criticised for blaming women for being sexually assault. In April 2014, he had told a Mumbai tabloid that women too should be punished alongisde their rapists, and also when there is consensual sex outside marriage.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Centre had called out Parameshwara for saying “such incidents happen” when told about the widespread street harassment of women on December 31 in Bengaluru. Parameshwara had said, “Youngsters who are almost like westerners, they try to copy the westerners not only in the mindset, but even the dressing.”
Minister of State for Home for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had said crimes against women could not go unpunished. Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh, too, condemned the remarks, saying “protecting the modesty of women” was the state government’s duty.