'Women who have sex outside marriage should be hanged, but forgive rapists,' say politicians in India's largest state

Separately, Mulayam Singh Yadav, head of the Socialist Party  claimed rapists should be forgiven 'mistakes'

Delhi 

Politicians in India’s largest and most politically important state have sparked outrage by claiming women who have sex outside of marriage should be hanged and that men who committed rape should be forgiven their “mistakes”.

In an election speech on Thursday, Mulayam Singh Yadav, head of the Socialist Party (SP), which runs the state government in Uttar Pradesh, said if he became prime minister he would scrap a recently introduced law that fixed the death penalty for rapists. Referring to a case in Mumbai where three men were sentenced to death for two gang-rapes, Mr Yadav claimed the men should not face the death penalty as it was not uncommon "for boys to make mistakes".

"Boys will be boys. Following a girl-boy fight, the girl complains she was raped," he said in the city of Moradabad.

Mr Yadav's comments sparked outcry from women's rights campaigners and commentators, as well as his political opponents. They were also denounced, though not that vocally, by the ruling Congress party, which had been long allied in the federal government with the SP in a ruling coalition.

On Friday, the 74-year-old Mr Yadav, whose son is the chief minister of sprawling, impoverished UP, appeared to backtrack on his comments.

"Many people said that my comments were right. I am against rape. Rapist should be given the most severe punishment," he said at another rally, according to local media. "Innocent people should not be hanged. Rape is being debated in half the world. If I said this, what was wrong."

Matters were made worse when another senior leader of the SP, whose government oversees a population of 200 million and which draws much of its support from Muslims, appeared to suggest that women who were raped might also be hanged, along with the rapist.

Questioned by the NDTV news channel about Mr Yadav's comments, Abu Azmi said: "Rape is punishable by hanging in Islam. But here, nothing happens to women, only to men. Even the woman is guilty."

"When the reporter questioned him further, he replied: "Any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn't be allowed even if a woman goes by consent."

Mr Azmi's comments sparked further outcry, including a denunciation from his son, Farhan Azmi, who is contesting a seat in the city of Mumbai.

"I believe a rapist should be hanged a hundred times," he said. "I have five sisters and everyone in my family believes the same."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste