A National Commission for Women member -- who had triggered a controversy by commenting that the gang-rape and murder of a 50-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh could have been avoided had the victim not gone out alone in the evening -- has expressed "regrets" over her remark.
"My comment was misread, but I take it back," Chandramukhi Devi, the NCW member, told NDTV.
"I am a big supporter of women empowerment and have been working for the past three decades to make women financially independent, educated and empowered...The victim was an anganwadi worker, how could have I said that she should not have gone out," she clarified.
The 50-year-old victim had gone to a temple in Badaun - 200 kilometres from the national capital - on Sunday and was sexually assaulted and killed allegedly by an occultist and his two disciples. The three men have been arrested.
The NCW member had gone to Badaun earlier this week to meet the victim's family when she made the controversial comment.
"I think if she had not gone out in the evening or was accompanied by any child of the family, perhaps this incident could have been avoided. But this was pre-planned as she was called through a phone call. She went (out) and then returned in such a state," she was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
NCW chief Rekha Sharma had condemned the remark.
"I don't know how and why the member has said this but women have all the right to move on their will whenever and wherever they want to. It's society and state's duty to make places safe for women," she tweeted last week.
The incident came months after a Dalit woman from Hathras died days after she was allegedly assaulted by four so-called upper caste men in her village. Her horrific injuries, topped by the UP police's handling of the case -- especially the move to cremate her body at 2 AM keeping her family locked up -- had evoked outrage across the nation.