Every 21 minutes a rape is reported in India, but some of the country’s politicians still don’t take the crime seriously.
As the country continues to mourn the brutal killings of two girls, ages 14 and 15, who last week were found raped and hanged from a tree, a member of the prime minister’s ruling party shared some disturbing thoughts on rape.
Talking to reporters Thursday, Babulal Gaur of recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party said rape “is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong,“ according to The Independent. He added that rape is only considered a crime when an official report is filed.
"Until there's a complaint, nothing can happen," he told reporters.
The BJP said Gaur's comments did not reflect the party's viewpoint, according to Reuters.
Earlier this year another Indian politician, Mulayam Singh Yadav, head of Uttar Pradesh province's governing party, excused the act of rape as a mere slip-up. In response to the country's recently introduced death penalty clause for gang rapists, Yadav said: “Boys will be boys. They make mistakes.”
In response to last week’s attack on the two young girls, and growing reports of sex crimes in India, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "appalled" by the tragedy and condemned Yadav's statement about rape.
"We say no to the dismissive, destructive attitude of 'boys will be boys,'" Ban said, per The Hindu.
Despite the death penalty being introduced for gang rapists, assaults often go unpunished due to lax police enforcement and social stigmas against reporting the crimes. Though several human rights groups continue to raise awareness about the issue, horrific rape stories continue to make headlines almost daily.
Earlier this week, a 35-year-old mother of four in northeast India was fatally shot while resisting an assault by a group of soldiers from the outlawed Garo National Liberation Army, Al Jazeera reports.