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July 17, 2009

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Politician arrested for rape comment

A LEADING politician of India's ruling Congress party was arrested yesterday and her house set on fire by activists after she suggested that a rival leader be raped so she can better understand the plight of rape victims.

Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the chief of the Congress party in northern Uttar Pradesh state, was placed under 14 days custody pending investigations for allegedly promoting social enmity, insulting a woman's modesty and insulting a person of lower caste. No charges have been filed yet, but the three offenses are punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Joshi's house in Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow was set on fire on Wednesday night, hours after she made a speech criticizing state Chief Minister Mayawati, who uses only one name.

Joshi said her comments were taken out of context.

Joshi's speech was about the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh and the increasing number of rapes in the state. She cited cases in which some women were paid 25,000 rupees (US$520) compensation after being raped.

Joshi said simply compensating the women with money was not enough. She said women who are raped should "throw the money at Mayawati's face and tell her, 'You should also be raped and I will give you 10 million rupees'."

Yesterday Joshi said she was only trying to "expose a chief minister who has no sympathy for women."

"I regret what I said in a fit of anger. If it is being misconstrued ... then I regret it," she said.

"I am myself a woman and I should not have spoken these words ... I really apologize."


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