India's top police official apologised yesterday for saying, "If you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it," a remark that has outraged women across the country.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief Ranjit Sinha made the remark on Tuesday during a conference about illegal sports betting and the need to legalise gambling.
The CBI is the country's premier investigative agency.
Mr Sinha said at the conference that if the state could not stop gambling, it could at least make some revenue by legalising it.
He said: "If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying, 'If you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it'."
In a statement, Mr Sinha said he had made the comment in the context of legalising betting in sports, AP reported.
"I gave my opinion that betting should be legalised and that if the laws cannot be enforced that does not mean that laws should not be made. This is as erroneous as saying that if rape is inevitable one should lie back and enjoy it.
"I regret any hurt caused as the same was inadvertent and unintended. I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and commitment to gender issues."
The remarks have caused outrage across India, which in the past year has been riled by widespread protests following the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi.
The attack last December caused nationwide outrage and forced the government to change rape laws and create fast-track courts for rape cases.
Laws introduced after the attack make stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment a crime.
They also institute the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim's death.
Angry activists called for his resignation.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat said Mr Sinha's comments were offensive to women everywhere, Press Trust of India news agency reported.
Said Ms Karat: "It is sickening that a man who is in charge of several rape investigations should use such an analogy. He should be prosecuted for degrading and insulting women."
India's National Commission for Women (NCW) also didn't hold back while condemning Mr Sinha.
Said NCW member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar: "Ranjit Sinha has made a controversial statement. We not only condemn it, but also protest it.
"How can he make comparison with a heinous offence like rape when the rape laws are changing?
"He holds such a high position and is a protector of the law.
"We will take proper action and will definitely see to it that such a kind of thing is not tolerated."
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