New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha was outraged when a Congress MP from Goa on Tuesday accused the media of playing up rape cases in his state and said a rape victim who was friends with strangers should be treated “differently”.
Shantaram Naik, who was speaking about the alleged rape of 25-year-old Russian woman in Goa on December 1, said the electronic media had blown the case out of proportion.
Rape is a heinous crime but "an alleged rape of a lady who moves with strangers for days together even beyond the middle of the night is to be treated on different footings," said Naik.
"If we go by electronic media coverage of recent times, it appears that nothing happens except incidents of rape (in Goa)," he said.
Opposition MPs, who were led CPI-M’s Brinda Karat, BJP’s Najma Heptulla and Maya Singh, and SP’s Jaya Bachchan, condemned Naik’s statement.
The MPs requested Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan not to allow Naik statement, which they said was derogatory to women. Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said Naik was "justifying" rape.
Khan asked the Goa MP to submit his Zero Hour text for examination and said the member was going beyond the subject he wanted to raise. Naik's statements were later expunged from the House records.
At least two other senior politicians in Goa have made controversial statements about rape victims this month.
Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamath told CNN-IBN in an interview the Russian woman shouldn't have been out late at night with men.
Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao, a former chief minister, followed that up by saying that the media ignored several other rape cases in Goa because of its obsession with white skin.
“Indians become rape victims in the Gulf, men get killed in America and other places, but the media only highlights incidents against foreigners in Goa," said Alemao on December 11.
Tourism Minister Micky Pacheco, however, has expressed fear that rapes and assaults on tourists may make Goa the “rape capital” of India.
"Goa may soon, if police inaction or ineffectiveness continues, gain reputation as the rape capital of India, a situation which cannot be permitted to develop at any cost," said Pacheco in a letter to Kamath on December 11.