Gang rape stirs India, but women still being blamed

Remarks by some religious leaders, politicians reveal nation's lingering prejudice

A board carrying a public service announcement from the Delhi police at the entrance gate of the Lady Sriram College in New Delhi. It advises female students to return home after class, avoid travelling with strangers or taking food and drink from such people. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW DELHI - While the death of the young woman who was gang raped on a bus has sparked mass revulsion in India, some politicians and religious leaders are now blaming women themselves for inviting sexual harassment and assaults.

Self-styled spiritual guru Asaram Bapu has even said that the 23-year-old physiotherapy student could have saved herself if she had simply called her attackers "brothers".

If the student had pleaded with her six attackers in God's name and told them she was of the "weaker sex", they would have relented, he was reported as telling followers of his more than 300 ashrams.

Although Mr Bapu later said his remarks had been taken out of context, his attitude exposed the lingering prejudices against women in a country that has always had strong female role models, including a prime minister.