Two dead, one raped, hundreds injured and humanity hurt. The toll of a tragedy that began in a New Delhi bus on December 16th, 2012 is as incessant as the outrage that followed.
Yet through all the emotion, it’s been the political slow motion interspersed with statements of a perverse notion that have defied and defiled a movement of change from a patriarchal persistence that is at best pervert.
Its time now to answer or at least admonish these quotes and their criminal, cowardly and crass progenitors and patrons.
Banwari Lal Singhal, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Rajasthan, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a letter to the state Chief Secretary C K Mathew, demanded a ban on skirts as uniform in schools and suggested replacing them with trousers or Salwar-Kameez.
“The intention of this demand is to keep girl students away from men’s lustful gazes and for their comfort in hot and cold weather conditions. It is not a Talibani type of thinking or restriction on girls’ freedom or right but a concern for their safety. I have myself caught several boys taking pictures of school girls by their cell-phones and girls were not aware of it. Such pictures could be misused. Everyone will have to make sure on one’s personal capacity that the dignity of women is protected and this is my effort in my capacity.”
In the holistic capacity of all of mankind in a bid to protect Mr Singhal’s dignity urgent measures need to be implemented to ensure he isn’t caught near schools clicking pictures of boys with or without a cell-phone. It may further be noted the legislator by virtue of his concern be bestowed upon the responsibility of wearing skirts “in hot and cold weather conditions” to re-direct all lustful gazes on his pretty self. The Taliban already fear him.
Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsanghachalak (Head), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
“Rapes happen in India and not Bharat.”
An assumption of the statistical sanctity of Bhagwat’s statement is likely to invoke a maths exam failure for most, but one wonders why he doesn’t dress up as more “Bhartiya” and give up those very “Indian” khakhi knickers, white collared shirt, tan brown leather belt and black shoes (the RSS Ganavesh). By his own admission that does stereotypify him as being more vulnerable to rape.
Abhijit Mukherjee, Member of Parliament from Jangipur, West Bengal, Indian National Congress
“……….staging candle-lit marches, going to discotheques - we did all this during our student life too, we were students too - I know every well what kind of character students should have. Those who claim to be students - I can see many beautiful women among them - highly dented-painted - they’re giving interviews on TV, they’ve brought their children to show them the scenes. I have grave doubts whether they’re students, because women of that age are generally not students.”
And as Abhijit Mukherjee went about his speech, one only wondered if the parliamentarian had actually ever been a student. Certainly such crassness cannot be attributed to even the Taliban or Boko Haram. His statement nonetheless left President nee Papa’s image “highly dented-painted”. Consequently the junior Mukherjee is likely to be grounded from at least two things he jibed about - giving interviews and going to discotheques.
Botsa Satyanarayana (Sattibabu), Minister for Transport, Andhra Pradesh state government, Indian National Congress
“Do we roam in streets at midnight as we got Independence at midnight? It would have been better if the girl did not travel by a private bus at that time.”
From a man who holds charge of the transport ministry portfolio in the Congress led Andhra Pradesh state government and who faces allegations of using public funds for his daughters’ lavish wedding “private bus” travel is always going to be an infradig. Making public transportation safer and ensuring “independence” post or pre-midnight is not gender centric is however last on the Sattibabu’s mind.
Nanki Ram Kanwar, Chhattisgarh Home Minister, Bharatiya Janata Party
“We have no answer to this rising spate of crime against women. Stars are not in position. Harm can come on a person if the stars are in adverse positions… We have no answer to this, only an astrologer can predict.”
While the stars may or may not be in position, one wonders how such severe damage to sanity can occur without even an incision. However, an award for astrologer of the year does need to be handed out to the Chhattisgarh Home Minister – surely an official solely responsible for state security with “no answers to the rising spate of crime against women” is predicting rather correctly, some adverse times ahead for himself.
Abu Asim Azmi, Member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Samajwadi Party
“Young girls and women must not roam around with any men except their parents, brothers or husband. Having boyfriends and girlfriends has become a fashion in cities.”
Only if the Maharashtra state legislator had the time to study figures of incestuous rapes from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2011 report – even “roaming around” with parents or brothers would be sacrilegious. But of-course even a courtesy reading of reports tabled in the parliament or otherwise has never been fashionable for politicians.
Kailash Vijayvargiya, Minister for Industries, Madhya Pradesh government, BJP Member
“Everyone must stay within Lakshman rekha. Ravan grabs and takes away those who cross the line just as he kidnapped Sita.”
For one Vijayvargiya has expressed a sense of gender parity few on this list can match. While what is implied is obvious, the mostly mistaken omission of a sexist suffix to “those” does allow him to be placed on par with the one’s crossing the “Lakshman Rekha”, and his assumption of risks associated with such ‘blasphemy’. Ravan with his omnipresent qualities is sure to lick his lips each time the presumably pious MP Industries Minister takes a holy water dip to cleanse an increasingly ‘rekha rejecting’ world.
Asaram Bapu, Hindu Spiritual Leader
“Only five to six people are not the culprits. The victim 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.”
While, advocacy of violence is at best avoidable, Asaram needs to be given a physical demonstration of the fact that even if one hand cannot clap it can surely slap. The statement reflects a mindset that is not merely manic and a crackdown on such pseudo religious discourses is critical. They more often than not preach a culture perversely patriarchal – one where culprits are rationalised as brothers and victims reduced to beggars.