India is seeing an open season of sexism. After the December 16 infamous gangrape of a paramedic student which stalled the nation for two weeks after people from all walks of life took to the streets to protest, a new drama is being played out in the form of comments from so called leaders or people in public office who think rape can be prevented if women do not toe the line of modernity. In other words, follow ‘Indian values and cultures’. I don’t know who deserves the price for the best comment but I am going to paraphrase some just to make myself doubly happy that I left a country whose population of dolts are growing.
I had no idea who Asaram Bapu was until I saw his face doing the rounds in Facebook. I mean India has so many Godman, Godwomen, hugging Matas, etc., that you lose count after a point. A Google search reveals he is a Hindu spiritual leader who preaches the existence of One Supreme Conscious and claims Bhakti yoga, Gnana yoga and Karma yoga as influences. At a public meeting recently, he said the rape victim should have held the hands of the rapists and called them brothers. “Brothers, you are my religious brothers,” is what she should have said. That along with chanting of mantras or prayers would have prevented the heinous crime, he said. With a name so close to the sound of an ass, I am not surprised at his idiotic offering of a solution. Also wondering why this bigot has still not been able to prevent the high incidence of rapes in the country. According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics, 24,206 rapes were recorded in 2011, equivalent to one rape every 28 minutes.
This one coming from the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is too good. I have always found the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pretty low profile in the past but the brown Khaki shorts worn by the volunteers have been the butt of my jokes with friends who wore shorts like these. They look so funny! The RSS is a right-wing party and their ideology is: service before self. But clearly, their chief Bhagwat thinks otherwise. He says in the light of the rape case that women must be just housewives and husbands the breadwinners and that rape happens in India (urban India) not in Bharat (rural India). "Where 'Bharat' becomes 'India' with the influence of western culture, these type of incidents happen. The actual Indian values and culture should be established at every stratum of society where women are treated as 'mother',” he said. A patriarch who would obviously be waited hand and foot by dutiful women in the house, he is another one of those for whom everything considered western in India is sinful – short skirts, English language, Bollywood, being gay, et al. In other words, the man is not responsible for rape?
In the same vein, one leader of a popular political party Samajwadi Party, says western culture is responsible for the growing atrocities on women in India. Of course, Abu Azmi is one of those truly proud of his Indian values and cultures. Hence keeping with the great values taught at home he feels, "Young girls and women must not roam around with any men except their parents, brothers or husband”. He also feels when women wear skimpy clothes, they attract attention and he thinks women from rural India with their knowledge of Indian culture should comprise the censor board team which could help cut scenes of nudity and such like from being aired on TV or films. And oh he admires the women from the northern state of Rajasthan because they are always veiled. He must love Muslim women too. Probably has a harem full of them.
Now this minister from Madhya Pradesh, Kailash Vijayvargiya, is from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose slogan is ‘Party with a difference’. This senior leader cited the epic Ramayana and advised women to stay within the Lakshan-rekha boundary. In the epic, Lakshmana draws a line around the forest dwelling he shares with his brother Rama and Rama's wife Sita. The line is meant to protect Sita, while he is away searching for Rama. So what Vijayvargiya meant was that Indian women must stay within boundaries and not move beyond that. So moving out of the house, say, after dark is only inviting trouble. Maybe it is time we drew a Lakshan-rekha around men too?
But India’s ruling Congress has their share of idiots too. The chief of the Andhra Pradesh Congress unit, Botsa Satyanarayana, said women should not roam the streets at night just because India attained its freedom at midnight! He wondered why the rape victim and her friend boarded a bus at night.
But the cream of statement, perhaps, is that from the Indian President’s son Abhijeet Mukherjee. When the whole of India was in the thick of the anti-rape stir, he said it was the ‘dented and painted’ women coming straight out of discotheques to protest, not the students! He likened the gang rape agitation to the pink revolution and said ‘beautiful painted and dented women’ who had no touch with the ground realities were holding candles and protesting! Well, we hope this remark dents his political career, to a degree.