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Modi urges lawmakers to stop 'politicizing rape'

NEW DELHI--India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urged lawmakers to stop fighting over rape and work together to protect women, in his first comments on the issue since the horrific gang-rape and lynching of two girls.

Modi warned lawmakers against “politicizing rape,” saying they were “playing with the dignity of women” in his first speech to parliament since sweeping to power at last month's elections.

Modi singled out the rape and murder last month of the two girls, aged 12 and 14, in Uttar Pradesh, where a political row has erupted as anger mounts over the state government's handling of the attacks.

Modi said lawmakers must work to end attacks, which women's groups claim have reached “epidemic” levels despite mass protests over the fatal gang-rape of a student in Delhi in December 2012.

“Governments will have to work strictly against this, else our own souls will not forgive us,” Modi told parliament as lawmakers thumped their desks in agreement.

“That's why I appeal to all state ministers, all ministers please stop politicizing rape.”

“Does it suit us to make comments on such incidents, can we not be quiet?

“We are playing with the dignity of women.

“Respect for women, their security — it should be the priority for all 1.2 billion people.”

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