India: Sexist comments make rape victims’ trauma worse

December 15, 2013 | By | Reply More

Dec 15, New Delhi: Referring to the December 16 Delhi gangrape, President Pranab Mukherjee’s son and Congress’ sitting Member of Parliament (MP) from Jangipur Abhijit Mukherjee earlier this year made a sexist comment that created a political storm and embarrassed his father.

hromedia india Sexist comments make rape victims’ trauma worse intl. news2While speaking at an event in West Bengal, Abhijit said “dented and painted” women protesters in Delhi went to discotheques and then turned up at India Gate to express outrage over the gangrape. He also said that they were not in touch with ground realities.

“What is basically happening in Delhi is a lot like Egypt or elsewhere, where there is something called the spring revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities. In India, staging candle-lit marches, going to discotheques — we did all this during our student life too, we were students too — I know very well what kind of character students should have. Those who claim to be students — I can see many beautiful women among them — highly dented and painted — they are giving interviews on TV, they have brought their children to show them the scenes. I have grave doubts whether they are students because women of that age are generally not students,” Abhijit had said.

Similarly, director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Ranjit Sinha had last month made out a case for legalising betting in sports, arguing “if you cannot prevent rape, enjoy it”.

“There are lotteries in states. If we can have casinos in tourist resorts and if the government can declare schemes for voluntary disclosure of black money, what is the harm in legalising betting? Above all, do we have the enforcement agencies? It is very easy to say but if you cannot enforce it, it is like if you cannot prevent rape, enjoy it. It is better to legalise it and earn some revenue rather than throwing your hands up and letting things happen as it were,” Sinha told an audience of sportspersons and officials.

Ire of activists

Sinha’s comments immediately drew the ire of women activists and those on social media, who called it shameful.

Sinha later clarified, stating that he “was just making a point, that it is very difficult to enforce a ban on betting, that you can make a law but there are already so many and it is difficult to enforce. Lotteries are already legal. So, I said betting could be legalised, it can be taxed. To make this point, I just used a proverb.”

Similarly, Madhya Pradesh Industries Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya was at the centre of a controversy in January over his remark that women must not cross the ‘lakshman rekha’ to avoid unwanted consequences, prompting an embarrassed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to disassociate itself from the comment.

“Only when Sitaji crossed the lakshman rekha, she was kidnapped by Ravan… If Sitaji [referring to any woman] crosses the lakshman rekha [limits], then sitaharan [abduction] is bound to take place as Ravans [demons] are out there. When people cross their limits, deterioration is bound to happen. It applies to everyone in the society, men or women,” Vijayvargiya had said, narrating an incident from the epic Ramayana while seeking to explain the reason behind the December 16 gangrape.

In January itself, self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu said that the 23-year-old gangrape victim was as guilty as those responsible for the barbaric sexual assault on her.

“Only five-six people are not the culprits. The girl is as guilty as her rapists… She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop… This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so,” he had said addressing a religious congregation.

Misuse of law

He further said that he was against harsher punishments for the accused as the law could be misused. “We have often seen that such laws are made to be misutilised… Dowry harassment law is the biggest example,” he said.

In another case of embarrassment, one of the defence lawyers in the December 16 gangrape case courted trouble in September with his remarks that he would have burnt alive his daughter had she been having premarital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend.

Apparently referring to the 23-year-old victim in the December 16 incident, A.P. Singh had told the media in reply to a question: “If my daughter was having pre-marital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend, I would have burnt her alive. I would not have let this situation happen. All parents should adopt such an attitude.”

Press journalist for HRO media – contributed to this report.

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Category: International, Women Rights

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