For Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the statement on the New Delhi rape case by Hindu guru Asaram Bapu (pictured) is "irresponsible, shameful and offensive to human dignity."
Across India, it has caused outrage.
Speaking at a religious gathering, the spiritual leader said, that the
23-year-old woman was "as guilty as her rapists." In his view, "She should have
called the culprits brothers and begged them to stop." In so doing, she would "have
saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap?" he said. "I don't think so".
Despite the fact that most Indians have reacted with outrage to his
words, the guru has been unapologetic. His spokeswoman, Neelam Dubey, has come
to his defence, saying that his remarks have been misunderstood and taken out
Speaking at a satsang or
prayer gathering that had attracted more than 100,000 people, he said that "The
men are responsible," she explained. However, "she is 0.1 per cent responsible
for getting into such a bus. If she had got on to a full bus or a bus with men,
she wouldn't have faced this. If she had prayed, then some idea would have
struck her and then reported the men."
According to Sajan George, "Asaram's distorted mindset, and that of many
of his followers, scares women, stopping them from going to the police to file
complaints against abuses and acts of violence against them."
What is more, "This so-called guru was involved in a sordid story in
connection with the death of two boys in his ashram in 2008," the GCIC
Retired judge D K Trivedi has headed a commission investigating the case
as possible homicide.
In India, "Violence against women has reached alarming levels," George
said. "According to the National Crime
Records Bureau, a woman is raped every 20 minutes. Every two hours, one
is killed over her dowry. Abuses and violence are the worst in tribal and Dalit
areas. In most cases, they are not reported," he noted.
The number of victims from Scheduled Tribes jumped 40 per cent between
2009 and 2010.
In the same period, the number of rapes against women from
Scheduled Castes rose by 15 per cent.