It would seem our politicians were rapists themselves, or at least PhD candidates in rape studies, to know so much about it.
Why do our politicians have such varied opinions on rape? Some put the reason down to the woman’s choice of clothes; others think it’s western influence and pornography that’s leading to a rising incidence of sexual assault; still others blame a culture of permissiveness.
For a crime as dastardly as rape, one would assume there would be unanimity in calling it what it is. But every now and then, someone or the other from the political class comes up with shockingly loose talk about what rape is, how it is defined, who is guilty and who is not, and the many permutations of that question. It would seem our politicians were rapists themselves, or at least PhD candidates in rape studies, to know so much about it.
In the latest instalment of this tomfoolery – for what else can it be given the lax attitudes – Mulayam Singh Yadav has said that it is impossible for men to gangrape. What he meant, ostensibly, was that a woman cannot be raped by more than one man at a time, so when the complainant mentions more than one perpetrator – these were his exact, chilling words—there is some foul play at work.
Yadav’s statement would have incited large-scale shock and disgust in any other country but India, where the litany of social injustices is too long to excite renewed outrage every time our politicos dispense their golden wisdom. This is after all a country where even judges don’t bat an eyelid in asking victims of rape to consider marriage to their perpetrators.
How should one respond? The right thing perhaps is to ignore this as another case of flagrant stupidity. But one weeps at the fact that this latest volley has emerged from the leader of the party than runs Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state and one known for its criminality against women. Some analysis, even if it makes one wince, is therefore in order.
What could Yadav have meant? That a woman who has already been raped cannot give pleasure to a second rapist because her anatomy would not allow it? Or that a woman who has been raped is now owned by her rapist in the time-worn tradition of bharatiya sanskriti, so she ought not to be touched by another man? Those are the only possible explanations from Yadav’s viewpoint– and each of them privileges the act of rape.
This viewpoint does not permit a consideration of the woman’s stance. It refuses to look upon rape as a crime against the woman; rather it reduces it to a question of the man’s pleasure. Why should a second, third or fourth rapist even bother, Yadav seems to suggest. He is completely at ease with its worldview, one that represses women and prevents them from seeking their full personhood. I am certain he thinks nothing of what he has said. After all, isn’t everything in this benighted country, even a crime against the victim, worth consideration only in how it inconveniences the perpetrator?
Second, Yadav’s statement fails to account for a serious social evil. Nirbhaya, Mr Yadav, was gangraped by a bunch of hoodlums on a Delhi bus in December 2013. I hardly think the rapists were worried about their pleasure as they systematically defiled her. The crime against Nirbhaya was not even sexual in origin, I would reckon. It was rather meant to show her her place. How dare a woman roam about the streets of Delhi at night, that too with a guy? No wonder Yadav would agree.
I can almost picture Yadav hosting a slew of rapist types, who beseech him to get their sorry asses out of hot water because “all” they did was rape a girl and, perhaps, even “took care” of the matter. And of course, Yadav would support them. He is after all one of them; if not a rapist, he comes from the same social setup where women are little better than cattle, to be protected if they happen to be bahus and betis; to be used to settle scores otherwise.
How do we protest this depraved mentality? How do we, who live in the so-called new India, where we have woman friends who are as liberated as the men, reconcile the reality of the hinterland? And why just the hinterland? Yadav’s son runs the state from Lucknow, and besides, Yadav is only a symptom. Our political class is steeped in such misogynistic ethos. Here is a man who commands respect across the political spectrum. He chided Congress during the Monsoon session of Parliament for not letting Parliament run and was heralded by the Prime Minister for his stance. Will the Prime Minister now rebuke him for his statement?
Of course not. Political calculations determine the fate of many issues in this country, but it is a travesty that a national leader can get away with such callousness. Meanwhile the women of UP will continue to live in terror of not just possible rapists but of what their leaders might say and do to justify rape should one happen.
What our politicians have opined on rape
“The victim [Delhi gang rape] is as guilty as her rapists. She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop.”
“Boys are boys, they make mistakes…”
Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party Chief
“It is a social crime which depends on the man and the woman. It is sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Unless a complaint is filed, nothing happens. It is not possible for any government to ensure that rape is not committed. Action can be taken only after the act is done.”
Babulal Gaur, Home Minister, Madhya Pradesh government
“When you are taking food which gives good josh [energy], you tend to be more naughty as time passes. I am giving you down-to-earth facts. Rapes are not in the control of the police. … Even the villagers from coastal Andhra are wearing salwar-kameez [as against traditional dress]. All these things provoke.”
Dinesh Reddy, Director General of Police, Andhra Pradesh
“Just because the country attained independence at midnight, is it proper for women moving at midnight? That particular woman [the Delhi rape victim] should have applied her mind before boarding the private bus. Anyway, it was a small incident.”
Botsa Satyanarayana, Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee President
“This is almost like the Pink Revolution. These women who are protesting have no contact with ground reality. These pretty women, dented and painted, who come for protests are not students. I have seen them speak on television, usually women of this age are not students.”
Abhijit Mukherjee, Member of Parliament
“Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance, evoking an urge to indulge in acts such as rape and sex. You also know the impact of chowmein, which is a spicy food, on our body. Hence, our elders too advised to eat light and nutritious food.”
“If consensual sex with a 16-year-old is not rape, why can’t girls be married at 16? I think that girls should be married at the age of 16, so that they have their husbands for their sexual needs, and don’t need to go elsewhere. This way, rapes will not occur.”
Sube Singh Samain, Khap Panchayat Leader
“I have no hesitation in saying that about 90% of the girls consensually go with men and become targets of rape,”
Dharamveer Goyat, Congress Spokesperson
“Even if we provide one policeman per house we can’t stop crimes against women… The rise in atrocities against women is due to obscene images used in advertisements.”
RR Patil, Home Minister of Maharashtra
“Such incidents [rapes] do not happen deliberately. These kind of incidents happen accidentally,” he said on Saturday.
Ramsevak Paikra, Home Minister of Chhattisgarh state
“You are safe, why are you bothered?” Akhilesh Yadav asked a journalist who asked about the rising number of rape cases in his state.
Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
“If the limit of morality is crossed by women, such cases will happen,”
Kailash Vijayvargiya, Member of Madhya Pradesh State Assembly
“Harm can come on a person if the stars are in adverse positions. We have no answer to this, only an astrologer can predict rape.”
Nanki Ram Kanwar, Former Chhattisgarh Home Minister
“Vulgarity, obscenity and violence shown on TV channels are to blame for the multiple incidents of rape and assault in UP. In many places, when the relationship between girls and boys come out in open, it is termed as rape.”
Ram Gopal Yadav, Samajwadi Party Leader
“The rape of grown up girls and women might be understandable, but if someone does this to an infant, it is a heinous crime and the offenders should be hanged.”
Ramesh Bais, BJP Leader
“The meeting of ministers has resolved to introduce overcoats for girl students [so that men are not driven mad with lust], operate special buses for them and ban mobile phones in schools.”
T Thiagarajan, Education Minister
This article has been republished from newslaundry.com.
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