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They Said It: “Eminent” Indians And Their Comments

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By Nidhi Sinha:

A perverted mind is the misogynist’s workshop. You will surely comprehend the analogy intended. Such workshops are not hard to find, in fact they are fearlessly conspicuous. Some of our nation’s bigwigs, be it politicians or ‘Godmen’, are a case in point. By virtue of their stunning comments and statements post Delhi gang rape case, they have managed to grab the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Each of these remarks screams misogyny in bold letters, as these popular names left no stone unturned in making sure that they showcase their perverted and anachronistic mentality to the world.

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Following is a compilation of those very statements painted in the uniform hue of misogyny. They have not been ranked, and some would wonder why. Well, my answer is, none of these remarks deserves any lesser censure than the other. They all are equally obnoxious and regressive remarks that reveal a mindset so narrowed that there seems to be no scope for change.

1) Abhijit Mukherjee (Congress MP)

He claimed that “dented and painted” women who turn up to “give interviews on TV” were incongruous participants in the citywide protests. We see an annoying stereotype at work here. Make up is seen as a marker of artificiality, and for some unknown reason, ineptness. It’s difficult to feed it into the small minds of men and some women that make up is part of a woman’s individuality, and has nothing to do with her abilities. We aren’t exactly sure what he meant by “dented” though. Guess he should brush up his language skill a little, instead of judging women on their appearances. A lesson book in proverbs would be a good start.

2) Mohan Bhagwat (RSS Chief)

This eminent man strongly believes that “rapes happen in India, not Bharat”. These were his words post Delhi gang rape incident, his intention being to slam the urban Indian culture as the root of all evil. Convenient and prudent choice of words indeed- as they stay true to his party’s agenda of Hindutva. He is nostalgic about traditional Bhartiya culture that subjugates women and wishes to restore it. Ironically Hindutva also involves worshipping several goddesses under names as Shakti, Lakshmi and suchlike, but in stark contrast, their human forms are meek, vulnerable and subservient. Time for these all-knowing, enlightened men to spare a glance at their glass houses before throwing stones at others.

3) Om Prakash Chautala (Former CM, Haryana)

Here comes another brilliant suggestion to curb sexual violence against women. This one suggests, “girls should be married off at the earliest to prevent rapes”. Have you not heard of married women getting raped, Mr. Chautala? Sexual violence in marriage is not unheard of either. That these irrational people would not see it as a crime is another matter altogether. The remark shows precisely what future is envisioned for a girl if she has the good fortune of making it into this world, alive. In a state fraught with a disparate sex ratio, such a statement would lead to the question, where ARE the girls? The ones that are born are under the subjection of men , the others weren’t even permitted that. So how does marriage serve a purpose at all?

4) Botsa Satyanarayana (Congress Chief, Andhra Pradesh)

His statement is the antithesis of Gandhiji’s meaning of true Indian freedom. The Father of the Nation proclaimed, and rightly so, that India wouldn’t be called truly independent until a woman could be out in the street at 12 A.M., fearlessly. The Congress chief, however, differs in opinion. Just because India won freedom at midnight doesn’t mean girls can roam around at night — these are precisely his views. Not that this man is an exceptionally worthy of being credible just because he chose to differ from the great Gandhi. Quite the opposite, in fact. People like him are hell bent on the perpetuation of an unequal society in which men can rule and women remain their subjects, and forever vulnerable.

5) Mamata Banerjee (Chief Minister, West Bengal)

Her remark would top the list of absurdly misogynist statements. According to her, rapes happen because women and men interact more freely. So co-education should be banned, workplaces, marketplaces and streets should be gender demarcated, and whatnot. Ultimately, building a separate nation for women seems to be where her implicated suggestion leads to. This is not exaggeration, merely the application of an idea. After all, aren’t the ideas of political leaders meant to be executed?

6) Chiranjeet Chakraborty (Legislator, Trinamool Congress)

This category of misogyny blames women for having brought sexual violence upon them. The disgusting belief that women, who dress in a certain way, expose themselves to the lecherous eye of men is voiced by Mr. Chakraborty. This is the highest rung of misogyny; if you are capable of thinking in this way you have mastered the art of misogyny. A blind eye is turned to the man and his sin when viewed with this wretched thought. The debased mentality of men is what needs to be policed; it’s their moral standards that are compromised. Don’t teach us how to dress, teach your sons not to rape — this protest slogan sums up why his remark is preposterous in every sense of the word.

7) Kailash Vijayavargiya (Cabinet Minister, Madhya Pradesh)

This minister pulls off an all time classic, the tale of the “lakshman rekha”, which is intricately related to “maryada” and its “ullanghan”. Even the epitome of purity, Sita was not spared when she ventured out of her assigned space. This, according to the minister, should serve as a warning for women to stay within their limits to avoid being violated, as Sita was. Of course, man sets the limits for woman, and if she dares to cross the limits , man only rapes her and abuses her. But woman is to blame, because she did not abide by the rule set by the master of the game.

8) Vibha Rao (Chairperson, Chattisgarh State Women Commission)

On similar lines as TMC Legislator Chiranjeet Chakraborty declared that rapes are partly women’s faults, because of the way they dress and they way they behave which give off wrong signals to men with an already out of the roof libido. Pathetically enough, being a woman does not ignite in her a sense of empathy with her fellow specimen.

9) Dharambir Goyal (Congress spokesperson, Haryana)

He has said that 90% of the girls are actually looking for sex at any given time, and he feels no hesitation is saying so. What these ladies do not expect that they would be “further” gang raped by some “lusty and pervasive” men that come their way. This is an extremely slanderous remark that suggests women actually find pleasure in getting raped and “lusty”, predatory men commit gang rapes while the singular form is almost legitimate. An indescribable insensitivity is seeded deep in the heart of this man and many others like him, it seems. This comment goes beyond misogyny; it’s verging on the inhumane.

10) Asaram Bapu

Any man who is intending to harm you, make him your brother by tying a ‘rakhi’ around his wrist. That should frustrate his plans, according to popular God man Asaram Bapu at least. Heights of absurdity, misogyny and insensitivity are reached with this remark. Coming from a man who claims to be God’s messenger, the three are all the more heightened. His was the kind of remark that one could not bear to hear, it was so disgusting and inhuman.

The common thread that binds all these comments/beliefs is the blame laid upon women for ‘inviting’ violence, sexual assault, harassment, etc. Maybe what remains to be said by some remaining eminent men is the suggestion of female feticide in susceptible cases, to wipe out evil from its very root.

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  1. Tyagi

    Brilliant article

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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