You know what? I’m tired today. I’m tired of the way things are (not) working out in my country. I may not be a big fan of Mallika Sherawat but full power to her for sticking to her guns and asserting the fact that the state of women in India is indeed regressive because it really is, and there is no other way to put it. Today, I will not even rant and lash out at the insensitivity of our leaders and politicians like I usually do, because as I said, I’m exhausted. You may think that I’m too cynical for a twenty year old who should ideally be full of hope and ready to take the world by storm and screaming for change and justice. I was all of those things, and I will continue to be all of those things too. But not today, because today I want you to read this compilation of the most stupid, insensitive, patriarchal and sexist remarks made by people in power-
“Rape accused should not be hanged. Men make mistakes.” Death sentence for rape is not fair. Boys make mistakes..”- Mulayam Singh Yadav, leader of the Samajwadi Party.
“Just because India achieved freedom at midnight does not mean that women can venture out after dark. They should ensure that they do not board buses with few passengers.The woman should have thought twice before boarding the suspicious private bus that night. Though the incident was condemnable, she should also have behaved keeping in mind the situation.Although it (Delhi gang-rape) was a minor incident, Soniaji made it a point to meet the protesters when they called on her”.
-Botsa Satyanarayana, Andhra Pradesh Congress chief.
“Women should be careful about the way they dress because such incidents are a result of blindly aping the West. This is eroding our culture and causing such crimes (rapes) to happen.”- Mamta Sharma, chairman of NCW.
“One should not be adventurous being a woman.”- Sheila Dixit, former chief minister of Delhi.
“There is no need to give phones to women and children. It distracts them and is useless. Why do women need phones? If you have given phones to them, take them back.Without mobiles which important work are they missing out on?My mother and sister never had mobiles, did they die?”
– Rajpal Saini, Bahujan Samaj Party MLA.
“One of the reasons behind the increase in incidents of eve-teasing is short dresses and short skirts worn by women. This in turn instigates young men.”- Chiranjeet Chakraborty, Trinamool Congress legislator.
“If any CPM man is present here, listen to me. If you ever touch any Trinamool Congress worker or their families, you have to pay for this…If any rival touches any Trinamool woman, father or child, then I will ruin their generations. I will let loose my boys, they will commit rape. Yes, they will commit rape.”- Tapas Pal, Trinamool Congress Party MP.
“Women should stay home after 8 pm”- The Haryana Police.
“Girls complain when someone touches them, and even when someone doesn’t touch them. It becomes a problem then, and the man’s honour is ruined in this. The solution (to rape) is this: any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn’t be allowed even if a woman goes by consent.”- Abu Azmi, Samajwadi Party leader.
“Girls should be very careful about what they wear and at what time they move out in the city. Their body language should not invite the attention of the potential rapists lurking around in the streets.”- Asha Mirje, NCP leader.
You see now why I’m so cynical, so dispirited today? We may say we have progressed, but has our mentality actually changed at all? As Indra Nooyi’s mother succinctly summed it up for the CEO of PepsiCo. “Let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”
A woman is still shackled by years of embedded patriarchy which is reflected in the thoughtless statements of the leaders of today. We might make tall claims of how much we have done for women in independent India and how the 21st century Indian woman is a force to reckon with, but what needs to change is the mentality which still, even today, believes that a woman’s place is first in her home and her kitchen. What needs to change is the mindset which says that a woman may work, but only if she has time left after she has completed all her household duties, which assumes that a woman’s first responsibility is not her career but stocking up on milk for the family.