Far from fighting for women’s rights and bringing about a change in our system, most Indian politicians practice misogyny either in speech or action and usually get away scot free.
A look at some of these esteemed leaders...
Mulayam Singh Yadav: This is not the first time that the Samajwadi Party supremo and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has made misogynist remarks. Once he lamented how fashionable women were entering politics and said that only the rich women would get far.
Rural women were not attractive and hence they wouldn’t make it in politics, he added!
But this time he has gone below his own depths. While there are many opposing the death penalty to rapists, Mulayam angered one and all by saying that rapists were just boys who had made a mistake.
Even more shocking was his party’s refusal to see anything wrong in that.
Abu Azmi: Mulayam’s partyman Azmi made things uglier when he termed a rape victim guilty and advocated the death penalty for her. He expressed more concern for the man’s honour. One must commend his daughter-in-law Bollywood actress Ayesha Takia, who Tweeted...
if wot im reading about my father in laws statements r true then me and Farhan are deeply embarrassed n ashamed...
Pratibha Patil: Many rape victims are too terrified to approach the police. Some are harassed by the cops. Others face humiliation in courts. Some get justice only after they have fought all the way to the Supreme Court.
Pratibha as President of India, pardoned dozens of criminals and that included 5 rapists.
Sushilkumar Shinde: It is a grave crime to reveal the identity of the rape victim, but that is what our Union Home Minister did in Parliament. Shinde took the names of the victims in the Bhandara case in the Rajya Sabha.
What action was taken against him? None! All he had to do was apologize. As simple as that!
Mamata Banerjee: Crimes against women are prevalent all over the world and we are far from having a just society for women. When rape cases started getting publicized in West Bengal, the Trinamool Chief Minister instead of showing some sympathy and trying to change things dismissed it all as a conspiracy.
Abhijit Mukherjee: The 2012 anti-rape agitation was a landmark in India and that led to the Justice Verma Committee Report that brought about much needed legal reforms. However not everyone was convinced. President Pranab Mukherjee’s son dismissed the protestors as “painted and dented” women.
Muqtar Abbas Naqvi: This BJP leader came close to Abhijit when he said “Some women wearing lipstick and powder have taken to the streets in Mumbai” while referring to the 26/11 outrage.
Somnath Bharti: This AAP minister conducted a vigilante raid where a mob harassed African women and forced them to conduct medical tests without any proof and without a warrant. It was ironic that the much maligned Delhi Police saved the women from the clutches of the mob.
Om Prakash Chautala: This former Chief Minister of Haryana once suggested that girls should be married off early to prevent rape. With such a parochial and chauvinistic attitude, it is quite difficult to improve the plight of women, especially in the villages.
Dharambir Goyat: Chances are that you wouldn’t have heard of this obscure Haryana Congress politician. He made the bizarre claim that 90% rapes were consensual. With leaders like these, women’s rights face an uphill task in India.
Asha Mirge: This NCP leader, who happens to be a member of the Maharashtra Women's Rights Commission, questioned what the rape victims of both the Nirbhaya case and Shakti Mills gang-rape case were doing late in the day.
She even added that rapes take place because of women’s clothes.
Digvijay Singh: This senior Congress leader introduced a woman leader on stage as “100% tunch maal”, a derogatory statement in Hindi that objectifies women.
Sanjay Nirupam: In a TV debate instead of countering BJP leader Smriti Irani with a valid point, commented, “Aap to TV pe thumke lagati thi” (You used to shake your hips on TV).
Sharad Yadav: During the Lokpal debate, he took off on the women participating in the movement and lamented about ‘‘par kati auratain” (women with short hair) in a clear reference to former IPS officer Kiran Bedi.
It’s just not the politicians. Right now a lot of journalists have launched a “Save Tejpal” campaign and all manner of reports are coming out rubbishing the rape victim in that case.
While one would have expected Tehelka man Tarun Tejpal to rubbish the rape victim, one is surprised as to how many of his media friends are joining in.
Then there’s also the average Bollywood film hero who will mouth platitudes on TV but continues to do eve teasing roles that set a bad example for the general populace.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.