In yet another instance of a Bengal politician courting controversy through her comments, a Trinamool Congress MP said the sensational Park Street rape case was not an assault but a "misunderstanding between two parties involved in a sexual dealing".
"If you are referring to the Park Street case, that is a different case altogether. That was not at all a rape case. It was a misunderstanding between two parties involved in a sexual dealing-the lady and her clients.So it was not a rape," MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar told CNN-IBN news channel.
An Anglo-Indian woman was allegedly raped at gunpoint in a moving car in the early hours of Feb 6 by a gang of five after picking her up from Park Street area.
In response to Dastidar's comment, the victim, a mother of two, said: "I don't understand where she would get her ideas from. I would like to ask her one question. Is it legal for a sex worker (she is calling me a prostitute) to get raped and a sex worker cannot do anything about it and cannot claim justice."
The Park Street rape case is yet to go to trial, with police yet not having submitted a charge sheet. Though three people have been arrested, the prime accused continues to be at large.
"My case hasn't even gone to trial. It is obvious they are not taking my case seriously as I am not on a ventilator system or I haven't killed myself as yet," said the victim referring to the barbaric Delhi gang-rape and the suicide of a rape victim in Punjab.
"All said and done, I was raped. I don't understand how they can differentiate the term rape. A rape is a rape whether your body parts are inside or outside. A rape is a rape," she added.
Ghosh Dastidar's comment triggered a wave of protests.
Dissident Trinamool Lok Sabha member Kabir Suman said he was "speechless".
"I hang my head on shame. How can a people's representative talk like this? I apologise to the people as she is still my party colleague."
Former city mayor Bikash Bhattacharya reminded Ghosh Dastidar that as per law, even a sex worker cannot be raped.
"But I don't think Ghosh Dastidar has spoken off the cuff. It is part of a pre-planned move to influence the case. After all, chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) had called the rape allegation 'cooked up' and aimed at 'maligning' her government," Bhattacharya said.
Image: File photo of Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar.