NEW DELHI: An Indian politician came under fire yesterday for saying a condom advert starring a well-known porn star would trigger a hike in rapes, in the latest controversial remark over sexual violence. Atul Kumar Anjan, Communist Party of India national secretary, told a rally on Tuesday the adverts featuring Indo- Canadian Sunny Leone should be banned for “developing sexuality and ruining sensibilities”. “If condom ads like this are shown on Indian television and in newspapers, then rape incidents will rise,” Anjan told the crowd in northern Uttar Pradesh state. “This must be stopped,” he said.
Women’s groups slammed the comments as ignorant as a backlash against Anjan spiraled on social media in India. Although the communist party plays a minor role in national politics, the comments fuel concerns of a lack of awareness among politicians on causes of sexual violence against scores of women. “Comrade – rape is caused by men’s sense of entitlement and lack of concern for women’s autonomy and consent. Not by pornography, naked women or any other ‘provocation’,” women’s activist Kavita Krishnan posted on her Facebook page.
The fatal gang-rape of a student on a moving bus in New Delhi in December 2012 sparked a massive public outcry and led to tougher laws for sexual offenders. But India’s politicians have also been accused of trivializing such crimes.
A former chief minister of northern Uttar Pradesh state, Mulayam Singh, triggered outrage during the national election last year over comments about rape in which he said “boys make mistakes” and “boys will be boys”. The central Madhya Pradesh state government’s home minister also said last year that rapes were “sometimes right, sometimes wrong”. Several politicians have also sought to blame tight jeans, short skirts and other Western influences for the country’s rise in rapes, while the head of a village council pointed to chow mein which he claimed led to hormone imbalances among men. Leone, 34, a porn star turned Bollywood actress, was drawn into a debate in 2013 on whether to ban porn outright in India following a series of brutal rapes. — AFP