Women’s rights activists in India have slammed the country’s top police official, some calling for his resignation, after he appeared to compare the legalisation of betting on sports to a woman enjoying rape.
Ranjit Sinha, director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), told a panel discussion on Tuesday that because it was difficult to enforce a ban on gambling, it should be made legal, and drew a confusing analogy with the crime of rape.
“It is very easy to say that you can’t enforce it (a ban on betting). It is like saying if you cannot stop rape, so you enjoy it,” Sinha told the discussion on ethics and integrity in sports.
Women’s rights groups said Sinha’s comments were highly insensitive and called for him to quit his job as head of India’s top crime-busting agency.
Many urban middle-class Indians have taken the issue of sexual violence more seriously since the high-profile gang rape and murder of a trainee physiotherapist in Delhi in December, which prompted thousands to take to the streets to protest about the poor state of women’s security.
A woman is raped every 20 minutes in India, the latest figures from the National Crimes Records Bureau show.
“It is a very unfortunate chapter for our country that people who are supposed to be sensitive to women’s safety are saying things like this. He should resign,” Mamta Sharma, chairwoman of the National Commission for Women, told journalists.
“We assume that we have to sensitise people of lower socio-economic status, but this demonstrates that even such senior officers need to be gender sensitive.”
Brinda Karat, vice-president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, said it was “a highly inappropriate analogy.”
“It shows a really perverted mindset that the man who is heading the premier criminal investigation agency in this country should consider it necessary to insult rape survivors in this manner,” Karat told the CNN-IBN news channel.
Sinha’s remarks were also criticised on social networking sites like Twitter where #CBI was trending – many tweeters calling them shameful.
Sinha tried to clarify his comments on Wednesday, saying in a statement “I gave my opinion that betting should be legalized and laws cannot be enforced. That does not mean that laws should not be made.”
“This is as erroneous as saying that rape is inevitable and one should lie back and enjoy it … I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and my commitment to gender issues.”
Some commentators said Sinha had been misunderstood because of his poor command of the English language.