Abu Azmi, the leader of India’s Samajwadi (Socialist) party in the Midwestern state of Maharashtra, argued India’s laws against rape were insufficient because “nothing happens to women, only to men,” and that anyone engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage, “with or without consent,” should “be hanged” according to Islamic law.
Azmi delivered the remarks to Indian outlet Mid-Day, in response to comments by the national leader of the Socialist Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav, that he would, as prime minister, consider repealing the death penalty for rapists. Yadav also excused rape by suggesting that “boys make mistakes” and the death penalty for something as minor could hurt the nation’s social fabric.
Azmi, meanwhile, disagreed that the death penalty was too harsh for rape situations. “Rape is punishable by hanging in Islam,” Azmi told the paper, according to the Times of India. He suggested that rape continues to be a problem in India, however, because “nothing happens to women… even the woman is guilty” in cases of rape.
“If rape happens with or without consent, it should be punished as prescribed in Islam,” Azmi suggested. The sentence suggests that any sex outside of marriage, even with consent, is “rape.” To solve the rape crisis in India, Azmi suggested, “any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged.”
Azmi, a committed Islamic socialist, has courted controversy before with similar statements. In 2012, Azmi refused to apologize for suggesting that all women must leave the home with a husband, father, or brother at night or accept that they will be raped. Instead of apologizing, Azmi doubled down on his statement, stating, “the concept of boyfriends and girlfriends has no place in India.”
Azmi’s daughter-in-law, Bollywood actress Ayesha Takia Azmi, tweeted earlier today that she and her husband, Farhan Azmi, were “embarrassed” and “deeply ashamed” by Azmi’s statements. “We surely do nottt [sic] share this mindset,” she added, “its disrespectful to women.if [sic] these statements r true then its sad.”
Indians went to the polls on Thursday to elect members of the legislature, with the Hindu nationalist party attempting to achieve a majority against the ruling Congress party. In a novel development, the nation’s film industry is set to release a series of satirical political films to encourage political engagement in the country.
Rape has become so prominent in India that it has become a significant topic of debate among politicians, many which have provided the media with outrageous public statements justifying or denying the existence of rape. In a report last year interviewing several men in an Indian town, the New York Times found many men denying that it was possible for their daughters to be raped, and others blaming women for dressing indecently in public.