No victim shaming, says Smriti Irani about Kathua and Unnao rape cases

NEW DELHI: The law is handling two rape cases that have shocked India but there "should be no victim shaming", said information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani as critics attacked the government for being silent about the crimes.

Irani was asked to comment on the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu's Kathua district and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar being named in a rape case filed by a 17-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district.

The girl in Kathua was tortured and killed allegedly because the accused wanted to scare away the nomadic Muslim Bakarwal community. Thousands of members of a radical Hindu group with links to the ruling party have marched to demand the release of the six men accused in the repeated rape and killing of the girl inside a Hindu temple. Hundreds of Hindu lawyers have protested that the men, two of them police officers, are innocent.

The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh handed over the Unnao case to Central Bureau of Investigation after coming under attack from its political rivals for allegedly shielding Sengar.

"Law agencies and government are taking necessary action. As a woman, I believe and request there should be no victim shaming," Irani was quoted by ANI as saying in response to questions about the two rape cases.

Irani is the second woman minister of the Narendra Modi government to comment on the two cases. Woman and child welfare minister Maneka Gandhi, in a video message Friday morning, said she was "deeply, deeply disturbed" and would move an amendment in the law to bring in the death penalty for child rapists.


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