Girls should not be given mobile phones, as it leads to rape. This statement caught a lot of criticism and made headlines.
On the 9th of June, Meena Kumari, a member of the Uttar Pradesh Women’s Commission, made the statement. During a Mahila Jansunwai (public hearing of women related complaints) in Aligarh, she said, “Girls talk on phones and later run away with boys….”
The member who has been elected twice as a Zila Panchayat member from Aligarh, elaborated her statement and said, “I listen to grievances of 20 women on average daily and at least five to seven cases are related to friendships over cellphones and their after effects. In many cases, girls were lured to a certain place and then sexually assaulted.” She further added, village girls do not know how to use cellphones smartly, make friends and later run away with them. She even blamed mothers and parents of girls, who not only allow them to use cell phones, but are also careless about their whereabouts.
However, her statement was not supported by the Uttar Pradesh Women’s Commission. The Vice Chairperson of the Women’s Commission Anju Chaudhary said, “Instead of saying that we should not give mobile phones to girls, we should be teaching them not to chat with strangers and educate them on the safe use of Mobile Phones.”
This is not the first time that such bizarre reasons have been blamed for rapes in India.
In the past, the Dahiya Khap Panchayat, Haryana, asked women to stop wearing jeans, which leads to rape. A similar statement was given by the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Tirath Singh Rawat. According to Mr. Rawat, ripped jeans are one of the major reason behind sexual assault and rapes.
A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Babulal Gaur blamed TV shows and item numbers for rape cases. He said, “No one can touch a woman unless she asks for it. Item numbers in films create a bad environment.”
Another BJP leader Jitender Chattar said, “Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance, evoking an urge to indulge in (sexual) acts.”
Vinay Bihari, a BJP leader in Bihar said, “People who eat more non vegetarian food like chicken and fish have higher chances of molesting and raping.”
Adding to these statements, once again the high profile leaders like Meena Kumari blamed victims/ situations like using cell phones to be a big reason behind the rising number of cases.