Hardline Indian nationalist party say rape accusations are becoming ‘fashionable’ and used as 'weapons to seek personal revenge'

The right-wing Shiv Sena have said that the laws in India were in 'favour of women'

A hardline right-wing party in India has spoken out in support of a police officer accused of rape, saying “rape charges have become a fashion” in the country and are being used as “weapons” for women “to seek personal revenge.”

The comments appeared in the editorial of the Shiv Sena’s newspaper and party mouthpiece, Saamana, which appeared to back the senior police officer, Sunil Paraskar, who is accused of raping and molesting a city-based model over a period of three months.

In the editorial reported in The Guardian, the party writes "After he has served for so many years in the police force, one model now charges DIG [deputy inspector general] Sunil Paraskar with rape and in one night he becomes a villain."

They added: "Such accusations have become good weapons to seek personal revenge.”

The hardline Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena are seen as a divisive political force in India and have a record of inciting violence and voicing controversial views.

They are also regarded as a political ally to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his nationalist Bharatiya Janata party.

The editorial also commented on the growing number of rape cases coming to light in India, saying that accusations were becoming fashionable with women.

They said:  “Accusing somebody of rape is becoming a fashion in society and men are getting pushed on the defensive for no fault of theirs," adding that, “all the laws in the country favour women.”

India’s congress and women’s groups have condemned the comments, calling them “shocking” and “insensitive”.

Rita Bahuguna-Joshi, a spokesperson for congress said: "We are shocked to hear that the Sena is saying that filing a complaint about rape has become a fashion. Which woman in this country would file such a complaint without valid reasons? Sena must apologise for these comments."  

The alleged victim, who has not yet been named, also reacted to the editorial, saying that this was a matter for the courts to decide.

She said: "No one should be commenting in sensitive matters like this without knowing all the facts."

According to reports, the woman had to be placed in police custody for fear that her life was in danger following the accusations.

In reaction to the criticism, the party have defended their comments, saying that they were merely arguing that those accused of rape should not be publicly chastised until they are proven guilty.

Aditya Thackeray leader of Yuva Sena, the youth wing of Shiv Sena said: "This editorial is not about one particular case. There have been many cases in the past where men have faced humiliation or social boycott and later have been proved innocent."

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Executive editor of Saamana Sanjay Raut said in the Economic Times: “Another police officer called Borude was accused of rape. He faced such humiliation that he committed suicide and later it was proved in court that he was innocent. Our editorial has commented generally on the trend where men get a raw deal.” 

The comments by Shiv Sena are bound to cause uproar in India, following a number of high profile cases of rape against women in the past two years.

In December 2012, the fatal gang rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi led to nationwide protests and more stringent laws being introduced by the government in a move to stem these attacks.

It also led to Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party promising a tougher approach when it came to sexual violence against women.

Nevertheless, despite the introduction of stricter laws and Modi’s promises, the instances of rape continue.

In May, two girls in the rural area of Uttar Pradesh two girls were found hanging from a tree after they had been gang raped.

This was followed by a 16-year-old being held at gunpoint before being gang-raped in the country’s capital Delhi.

Just last month, the alleged rape of a six-year-old sparked major street protests across the country.

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