NEW DELHI: The mother of a student who was fatally gang-raped on a bus is leading the outrage against an Indian political leader who described three convicted multiple rapists as “boys” who had made “mistakes.”
During a rally in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav said his Samajwadi Party would try to change the law on punishments for rapists after India’s ongoing elections as he spoke out in defense of three men who have been sentenced to death for repeat sexual assaults.
“Three poor fellows have been sentenced to death. Should rape cases lead to hanging?” said the 74-year-old Yadav, whose party governs the electorally crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.
“They are boys, they make mistakes,” he added in reference to the three men aged 28, 21 and 19 who were sentenced in Mumbai last week for their part in two gang-rapes.
They were the first death sentences to be handed down for multiple sex attacks since the law was toughened following the outrage over the December 2012 attack on the bus in New Delhi.
The mother of the 23-year-old victim, who died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital two weeks after the assault, called Yadav a “disgusting and shameless” politician and urged voters to reject leaders who “don’t understand the torture women go through.”
“His comments hurt us so much,” the mother said.
“Every day women get raped and they are all mistakes? He talks about doing away with the death sentence for rapists but parents like us feel even death is not enough for rapists. They deserve worse.”
Yadav’s remarks sparked a backlash on social media where #backingrapists and ‘Mulayam Singh’ were top trending topics on Twitter.
Political parties and women’s rights groups poured scorn on the 74-year-old ex-wrestler over his “misogynistic” comments and demanded an apology.