Politician blames women for rapes

NEW DELHI - Women share the blame for a spate of rapes in India, a female politician from India's ruling coalition said, sparking outrage across the country on Wednesday.

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Asha Mirje, a provincial leader from the Nationalist Congress Party, suggested that women sometimes invite the crimes.

"Rapes take place also because of a woman's clothes, her behaviour and her being at inappropriate places," Mirje told a women's gathering in central Nagpur city Tuesday, in comments broadcast on NDTV news channel.

"We (women) have to be careful. We have to ask ourselves, where am I going, with whom am I going, what am I going for, do I really need to go to that place."

Referring to a fatal Dec 2012 gang rape in Delhi and last year's gang rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai, Mirje questioned why the women were out late in the evening.

"Did Nirbhaya (a name given to the Delhi rape victim) really have to go to watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend? Take the Shakti Mills gang-rape case: why did (she) go to such an isolated spot at 6pm?" said Mirje, who is a member of the Maharashtra state women's rights commission.

Mirje later apologised, but her comments drew condemnation and protests from women and activists in India.

The remarks came at a time when India has had several high-profile sex crimes including rapes of foreign tourists.

The crimes prompted the government to announce stricter punishments, but there are doubts about whether it has a deterrent effect.

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