Mulayam Singh Yadav
Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Reuters

In an unexpected and bizzare statement, the state-level chief of a regional party in India has said that rape victims should be hanged too.

In a rather serious tone, Abu Azmi, India's Samajwadi Party (Socialist Party) provincial leader, went on to say that rapes were synonymous with extramarital sex, and therefore both the rapist and victim should be hanged.

"Rape is punishable by hanging in Islam. But here, nothing happens to women, only to men. Even the woman is guilty."

His statements followed the imprudent remarks of SP President and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, on rape.

Yadav, who nurtures prime ministerial ambitions, speaking at an election campaign rally, had casually stated that "rape accused should not be hanged. Men make mistakes."

The former chief minister is already drawing immense flak for opposing the new rape legislation in India, which makes the offence punishable by death.

Yadav was referring to the Shakti Mills gang-rape case, where repeat offenders were sentenced to death. According to him, capital punishment for serial rapists was too harsh.

Azmi's comments, however, were a notch above on the scale of monstrosity.

Asked by a reporter of a leading Mumbai tabloid, what in his opinion was a solution to the rising rate of crimes and rape cases against women, Azmi said, "Solution is this: if any woman, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, she should be hanged. Both should be hanged."

When asked about Yadav's support for rapists, he tried to be diplomatic so as not to offend his party leader, but ended up sounding fatuous like his boss.

He said: "What context has he spoken in? Sometimes, the wrong people go to the gallows. Josh mein ladke aisa kar jaate hai [It is natural for men to do such things for a thrill]. I won't speak against Islam."

However, the father of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim who died of her injuries, begged to differ.

"If a senior politician like Mulayam Singh Yadav makes such comments then it's worrying, it is sad," Delhi-victim Nirbhaya's father told Zee News. He added that women in India were not safe as long as the country had leaders like him.

Indian social activist and retired police officer Kiran Bedi called for a boycott of such leaders.

"This statement is not just against women, it is against society. They should be punished with no votes," she said.