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Slamming Delhi Police Commissioner B.K. Gupta’s statement that women venturing out late night should be accompanied by a male, activists and politicians Sunday said that the remark was shocking.

“The statement reflects a misplaced understanding of modernised India,” Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, told.

“If a job requires a woman to leave late at night what can she do? The commissioner is shirking his responsibility and instead blaming the victim which is the woman,” she added.

She argued that the conception of a male member of the family providing security to the female member was totally wrong and it was the job of police to ensure the safety of all women in the city.”Moreover, how many fathers and brothers have the time to accompany their daughters and sisters all the time? This is indeed a strange statement.”

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat said that the statement was highly objectionable.”It is really objectionable. The Delhi police commissioner should understand more about women’s work before making such comments,” Karat said.

“Whether it is 2 a.m. in the morning or 2 p.m. in the day, his job is to keep the city safe for women and citizens, so timing should not be an issue,” she added.

General secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association, Sudha Sundaram said that the police chief’s statement was an example of an age old perspective of blaming the woman who herself is the victim.”This sort of attitude in this day and age won’t help especially when such a statement is coming from police of a state whose chief minister is a woman,” Sundaram said.

“Laws which are there to protect women are not being implemented. The police commissioner should ensure the safety of women at any cost and also the implementation of tougher laws,” she added.

Activist Annie Raja said: “This statement shows the failure of the government to ensure the safety of women in the city.”

Raja argued that it was the responsibility of the government to provide safety and security to all citizens and it could not run away from the responsibility.”If they can’t do this they should step down,” she said.

Calling the comment unfortunate, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Jolly said the comment would only increase the sense of insecurity among the women in Delhi.

“It is very unfortunate of the police chief in the capital giving unsolicited advice to women not to go out without male companion. What happens to single women, students or those who have no male members in the family,” Jolly said.Madhavi, mother of slain television journalist Soumya Vishwanathan, said she was shocked by the commissioner’s statement.”It’s a precursor to what he might say tomorrow that they (women) should be put in ‘purdah’…because of male members there should be a separate section for them in the house,” she told a news channel.

“This is a shocking statement in today’s world when both men and women have to work otherwise it’s difficult to make ends meet. You are not only victimising women but also penalising them,” she added.

Soumya, 25, was found dead in her car in Vasant Kunj area of south Delhi around 3.30 a.m. Sep 30, 2008 when she was returning from work to her home in Sector-C of Vasant Kunj.

Gupta Saturday said at an event that women should not travel alone at night and they must be accompanied by a male.

“You can’t travel at 2 o’clock in the night and say that Delhi was not safe…You should take your brother or driver with you. These reasonable precautions are expected to be taken by all citizens of the city,” Gupta said.

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