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Modi hands over his social media accounts for Women’s Day

NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center) talks with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President Jagat Prakash Nadda (2nd left) as Home Minister Amit Shah (right) and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh look on during a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary committee meeting at the Parliament House yesterday. – AFP

NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hand over his social media accounts on Sunday to celebrate inspiring women on International Women’s Day, months after facing criticism over a series of high-profile rape cases. With more than 50 million followers on Twitter, Modi, 69, has one of the biggest followings on social media among world leaders. “This Women’s Day, I will give away my social media accounts to women whose life & work inspire us. This will help them ignite motivation in millions,” Modi said in a tweet yesterday.

He asked people to share entries of such women using the hashtag #SheInspiresUs, which became the top trending topic on Twitter about an hour after he posted his tweet. His support for the March 8 event came after he faced flak for failing to check violence against women following a series of rape cases late last year that triggered mass protests. In November, a 27-year-old vet was raped, suffocated and her dead body set alight on the outskirts of the southern city of Hyderabad. Another rape victim was set on fire and killed by a gang of men, including her alleged rapists, in December.

In the same month, a court sentenced a former lawmaker from Modi’s ruling party to life imprisonment for raping a teenager. These cases highlighted India’s grim record of sexual violence against women despite enacting some of the world’s toughest laws after the gang rape of a Delhi student on a bus in December 2012, which sparked global outrage. One woman reported a rape every 15 minutes on average in India in 2018, according to government data released in January. – Reuters

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