Rape charges ‘have become a fashion’ in India, says Shiv Sena

A rightwing Indian party has said rape charges have “become a fashion” in the country.

The hardline Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena made the comments in an article supporting a police officer who has been accused of rape. It questioned victims’ intentions for reporting crimes, saying rape allegations were “good weapons to seek personal revenge”.

It follows accusations that Sunil Paraskar, a senior police officer, raped and molested a model over a three-month period.

“After he has served for so many years in the police force, one model now charges DIG [deputy inspector general] Sunil Paraskar with rape and in one night he becomes a villain,” the party wrote. “Such accusations have become good weapons to seek personal revenge.

rape“Cases of charging men with molestation and rape in [high society] to create hype is on a rise now. It has almost become a fashion,” wrote Shiv Sena, which is a key ally of prime minister Narendra Modi’s government.

It added that the Indian judicial system needed to “open its eyes” and protect the innocent because “all the laws in the country favour women so anyone can slap any charge against anyone”.

The alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, criticised Shiv Sena’s comments. “This matter is in court,” she said. “No one should be commenting in sensitive matters like this without knowing all the facts.”

It was reported last week that the woman had been placed under police protection after saying that she feared for her life.

India has toughened its sexual assault laws following the fatal gang rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012 which sparked nationwide protests. But the move has done little to stem attacks against women.

Last month, the alleged rape of a six-year-old girl in a school triggered a series of street protests by angry parents and political activists over the lack of safety for women and children in the country.

A 16-year-old girl in Delhi was gang-raped at gunpoint in June, and a seven-year-old girl was found hanging from a tree in a village in West Bengal state. Locals suspect she too had been raped.

In May, two girls in Uttar Pradesh state found hanging from a tree had been gang-raped in a case that sparked public revulsion.

Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party promised a zero tolerance approach to violence against women after it swept to power in May elections. However, two state BJP ministers appeared to trivialise rape in June when one said the attacks happened accidentally and another said they were “sometimes right, sometimes wrong”.

Uttar Pradesh’s Samajwadi party leader Mulayam Singh was the target of public anger in April when he told an election rally that he opposed a recently introduced death penalty for gang-rapists, saying: “Boys make mistakes.”

Shiv Sena, which has a history of inciting violence, was criticised this month after some of its MPs tried to force-feed a chapati to a Muslim restaurant manager fasting for Ramadan because they were unhappy about food at a government canteen.