Asha Mirje, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader in western Maharashtra state of India, has outraged her fellow women in her country by stating that women were “responsible to an extent” for rape and that their “clothing and behaviour” played a part.

Mirje made the statements when she was questioning why a 23-year-old physiotherapy student who was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi in 2012 was out late at night.

She also commented on a photojournalist who was gang-raped while on assignment at the abandoned Shakti Mills in Mumbai last year.

“Did Nirbhaya ( the 23-year-old student, not her real name but used to protect her identity) really have to go watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend? Take the Shakti Mills gang rape case. Why did the [survivor] go to such an isolated spot at 6pm?” news channel NDTV quoted her as saying.

“Rapes take place also because of a woman’s clothes, her behaviour and her being at inappropriate places,” she added.

After receiving backlash from other women activists and politicians, Mirje later apologized, saying it was her “personal opinion”.

“The complete comment was not taken. Only a part of it was projected. I was not blaming the women for rape. I had said that since we are in period of transition, we have to be extra cautious,” she said.

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