By Rishi Iyengar
September 4, 2015

An Indian politician’s comments on a Bollywood actress, who is also a former porn star, resulted in a severe backlash earlier this week, when he said the condom ads she stars in would lead to a rise in rape cases in the country.

The politician, Atul Anjan of the Communist Party of India, targeted Indian-Canadian actress Sunny Leone and a television ad that shows her promoting a condom brand on a beach.

“This advertisement develops a sexually infected mindset and finishes off your sensibility,”Anjan said at a political rally, according to the Indian Express newspaper. “If such advertisements will continue to be shown on television then there will certainly be an increase in rape cases.”

The remarks caused widespread outrage on social media, including from prominent Indian women’s rights activist Kavita Krishnan who bemoaned the act of “moral policing”.

Leone, who moved to India in 2011 to pursue a career in Bollywood, also shot back on Twitter by saying that politicians shouldn’t “waste time” on her and should focus on serving the people.

Anjan later apologized to supporters of Leone for his remarks, but stood by the views expressed.

“I apologize but I don’t stand for such ads,” he was quoted as saying by the Times of India newspaper.

Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

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