Home >Politics >Policy >PM Modi on rape cases: Correct sons, don’t question daughters

New Delhi: “Those who rape are someone’s sons" and parents should stop them before they “take this wrong path", Narendra Modi said on Friday in his first Independence Day speech as Prime Minister.

Authorities will have to work strictly against the rising number of rape cases, and stop politicizing the issue “else our own souls will not forgive us," he had said earlier on 11 June.

Welcoming 15 August speech, women’s rights activists said it was a mix of “right emotions and right words", but the litmus test is transforming words into action.

“Our head hangs in shame when we hear news about rape. When such incidents happen, parents question their daughter, but does anyone dare ask their sons?" Modi said in his emotionally charged speech standing on the ramparts of the Red Fort on India’s 68th Independence Day. “After all, the person raping is someone’s son. As parents have we asked our son where he is going."

Talking about the national sex ratio, Modi said, “For every 1,000 men, there are 940 women. Who is creating this imbalance in society? God isn’t. I urge doctors not to kill daughters in the wombs just to fill their pockets."

Urging mothers not to sacrifice girls in the hope of having a boy someday, he said, “Mothers think sons will support them in their old age. I have seen families where despite having five sons, parents have to live in old age homes. I have also seen families where daughters decide not to marry, kill her dreams, just to take care and live with the parents."

“It is a well-said speech, shifting focus from blaming women and instead questioning the upbringing of boys," sociologist and women’s rights activist Ranjana Kumari said. “It has the right emotions and the right words, but lot of efforts are needed for implementation. The real litmus test is when such incidents stop happening."

The statement “those who rape are someone’s sons" was applauded on social networking site Twitter, with some calling this the “most important line in the speech." @Darkwyr tweeted: By far most impt line in Modi’s speech: ‘Those who rape are someone’s sons.’

Another tweet by @subhranshudash1 said: “That’s the way you touch human lives in a personal way that evokes response. I bet a lot of women will quietly bless Modi ji today."

However, All India Democratic Women’s Association’s general secretary Sudha Sundararaman said the speech was “nice sounding hot air that can warm you but not take you anywhere."

She said, “You cannot blame individuals—girls or boys. You are shifting the blame away from the government which has to be accountable for such incidents. It’s easy to give such speeches. The government has been in power for three months now. What have they done to address the issue (of rising rapes)?"

The association is the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is traditionally opposed to Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Talking about the need for toilets, Modi said, “It is a shame that women have to wait for darkness to go out in the open to defecate. Dignity for poor is important. There should be toilets in all schools across the country."

Around 65% of the rural population in India defecates in the open. The recent gang-rape and murder of two cousins in Badaun in Uttar Pradesh as well as the gang-rape in March in Bhagana, Haryana, points to the dangers women face because of the lack of toilets in home, even as it exposes caste-based violence against women. The incidents raised an outcry over the need to tackle the absence of proper sanitation in the country.

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