Woman and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi, has raised the hackles of many with a controversial comment on rape. While addressing a gathering of woman journalists, Gandhi said that India ranks among the lowest four countries in the world in terms of the number of rape cases it sees. “We have zero tolerance towards rape and our newspapers will write about it every day,” she said.
In countries like Sweden, she said, rape cases do not become big news as they do here. She said that when she travelled to Sweden two years ago, many expressed their hesitation about going to India because of its safety issues. She said that according to data collated by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, Sweden recorded the second highest number of sexual crimes – 63.5 per 100,000 inhabitants – in 2010.
Many find her statement problematic, especially because it does not take into account the multitude of cases that may go unreported in India.
“I find it very unfortunate that a minister might try and tell women of this country that you can be in a worse situation instead of saying that she is working to make things better. Is she denying sexual violence is pervasive and widespread in India?” said lawyer Vrinda Grover at the gathering.