India erupted in outrage Tuesday after the nation’s top police official casually commented, “‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it.”
Ranjit Sinha, chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation, made the incendiary remark at a conference on illegal gambling, arguing that if India could not stop gambling, it should be legalized and taxed. “If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying, ‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it,’” he said.
Sinha, who is overseeing several rape investigations, claimed the line was taken out of context and misinterpreted. Though some news outlets are reporting that Sinha apologized on Wednesday, he qualified his statement carefully: “I regret any hurt caused as same was unintended and inadvertent. I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and commitment to gender issues.”
India is under worldwide scrutiny for its endemic rape crisis after the violent gang rape and murder of a young girl in New Delhi sparked massive protests. According to a recent Human Rights Campaign report, two women in India are raped every 60 seconds, and a young married woman is found beaten to death, burnt, or driven to suicide every six hours.
Though officials have made a show of hunting down and arresting rapists, Sinha is hardly the only authority to prove rape culture in India is alive and well. After a Swiss tourist was brutally raped in the state of Madhya Pradur, the Home Minister suggested she was to blame for not informing the police of her travel plans. Police have also arrested anti-rape activists as protests grow, reportedly detaining some for over eight hours. Under pressure, lawmakers stiffened penalties for rapists but ignored other recommendations to tackle root causes of misogyny and sexual violence.