Meena Kumari, a member of the women’s commission in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, has blamed the excessive use of smartphones for crime against women in India. Kumari said that “girls talk on the mobile phones for hours, their phones are not regularly checked by their parents, and many girls run away with boys,” to substantiate her statement. Kumari was in Aligarh city to address a welfare meeting.
While interacting with the media, she appealed to the parents of daughters in India to refrain from providing mobile phones to young girls. Her comment came in response to a question about a significant rise in alleged rape cases in Uttar Pradesh state.
In a video which has gone viral, Kumari can also be heard saying in Hindi that Indian mothers "must put aside their careless” behaviour and "monitor what their daughters do using mobile phones."
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Indians have called Kumari's statement “absurd”, claiming that her “misogynistic and patriarchal” view blames girls and their mothers for "attracting crime".
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India sees sex and topics related to sex as taboos for discussion, but it witnessed an average of 88 rape cases every day in 2019, according to NCRB data.
In recent years, many politicians have offered bizarre explanations of the causes of prevailing crimes against women in the country.
For instance, in October 2012, Jitendra Chattar, a village panchayat leader from Haryana state blamed the consumption of Chinese food for the rising cases of rape in the country.
"To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chow mein leads to hormonal imbalance, evoking an urge to indulge in such acts,” Chattar had said and shocked educated and liberal Indians around the country.
In a more recent incident, earlier this year, Tirath Singh Rawat, the state chief of Uttarakhand in India questioned the morals of women and girls who wear ripped jeans. In a bid to teach Rawat a lesson, women from around India bombarded social networking platforms like Twitter and Instagram with pictures of themselves rocking their ripped jeans – while nursing their kids, going to work, cooking food and doing other day-to-day activities.
— Aditya Goswami (@AdityaGoswami_) March 19, 2021
Pakistan also witnesses a number of rape cases every year. Recently, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan sparked controversy with his explanation of why rapes happen.
“World history tells when you increase fahashi (vulgarity) in society, two things happen: sex crimes increase and the family system breaks down. This entire concept of pardah (covering up) is to avoid temptation." This was how Khan responded when he was questioned about the escalating number of rapes in his country.
At the time, PM Khan’s former wife Jemima Goldsmith reacted with a quote from The Quran to slam her ex-husband’s remark.
“’Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts,’ Quran 24:31. The onus is on men,” Goldsmith had tweeted.
— Jemima Goldsmith (@Jemima_Khan) April 7, 2021