Asha Mirge is a women’s activist who carries a strange combination of conservative views on how a woman should behave publicly and a heart to support victim of sexual attack.
A month ago, the NCP activist and a practicing gynaecologist from Akola was nominated as member of Maharashtra Women’s Commission (MWC). At the party’s women’s wing programme here on Tuesday, she stirred a controversy adivising girls to dress up and conduct appropriately in public and not venture out at lonely places. She later apologised too.
It was Mirge, who doggedly pursued the matter of a 7-year old deaf and mute girl from Washim district of Vidarbha, who was allegedly raped by three men at a school in Hingoli district of Martathwada on January 13.
The victim was brought to Nagpur’s Government Medical College, where Mirge visited her along with NCP women’s wing chief Supriya Sule.
Three men Rajaram Bhagat (teacher), Jamil Patel (peon) and Pramod Kharat from Sharadchandra Pawar Muk Badhir Shala from Vedona village in Hingoli district of Marathwada, were arrested in connection with the alleged rape.
Incidentally, Mirge’s “advise” to girls came with Sule listening.
“Girls must realise that their body language and clothings must be appropriate. Was it necessary for Nirbhaya (Delhi rape victim) to go to cinema with a friend at 11 in the night? Was it necessary for the girl (woman journalist) to go to Shakti Mills in Mumbai at 6 pm? Four questions should be mulled before venturing out: where I am going, why, with whom and is is necessary for me to go there,” Mirge said.
She also cited a Marathi poem “Saavadh harini saavadh ga, kareel kunitari paaradh ga” (be alert, deer, someone might kill you) to buttress her point. “Why female deer, not nale, is advised in the poem to be alert,” she further asked.
She further said, “if the girl must still go out, she must be ready with a response to anything untoward that could happen. She must watch the people around her and their body language. Someone might call his accomplices. You will get time to run away from the spot.”
Sule reacted only saying, “the comments were personal views of Mirge.”
Mirge later told mediapersons at a press conference that she apologised for her comment seen as “insensitive” by many people.
“There were my personal views, borne out of my personal experience and from my interaction with many people. These are not MCW’s views. I apologise if they have hurt anyone. But I think just as it is time for men to change, it is also time for girls to think. It is, of course, desirable that gender equity demands that women must be safe under all circumstances. All I feel is that the girls should remain safe,” she said.
Budget earmarked Rs 3.40 crore for the Nirbhaya Fund, to be used for the upkeep of security of women.