That, at the very least, is what the world appears to think of India at present. I can hardly blame them. It is a feeling that many Indians are themselves gripped with. The statements coming from the very highest levels of leadership in India only provide reassurance to criminals and perpetrators of rape. When even one of India’s most powerful woman politicians in India – West Bengal’s Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee – says that the “media is glorifying rape“, what hope is there for the victims of this heinous crime.
Here is a small sampling of what India’s best and brightest have to say on the matter:
|“it is not necessary that she would be sensitive to women because both men and women in our society today have the same mentality that men should dominate women” – on the question of deploying female constables at women’s help lines|
|“Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options” – justifying the rise in rape cases.|
|“Such crimes hardly take place in ‘Bharat’, but they occur frequently in ‘India’” suggesting that rapes happen in urban India which is influenced by “western cultures” as opposed to rural India where “ancient Indian values” prevail.|
|“Maryada ka ulanghan hota hai, toh Sita-haran ho jata hai. Laxmanrekha har vyakti ki khichi gayi hai. Us Laxmanrekha ko koi bhi par karega, toh Ravan samne baitha hai… woh Sita-haran karke le jayega” – espousing his views on the reasons for rape.|
|“Those who are coming in the name of students in the rallies, sundori, sundori mahila (beautiful women), highly dented and painted … Giving interviews in TV and showing off their children. I wonder whether they are students at all … what’s basically happening in Delhi is something like pink revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities.” – commenting on the character and antecedents of female anti-rape protestors.|
|“she should have taken God’s name and could have held the hand of one of the men and said I consider you as my brother and should have said to the other two ‘Brother I am helpless, you are my brother, my religious brother.’” – commenting on what the victim should have done when confronted with six drunk men on the bus|
|“All are talking about the Delhi gang-rape, but nobody is asking where these men came from. No one is asking who did this. No one is talking about the fact that all these rapists are from Bihar” – on the (supposed) state of origin of the gangrape perpetrators|
|Banning use of mobile phones by students, requiring female students to wear overcoats, and separate buses for girls and boys – measures enacted in order to reduce “temptation” and curb sexual assault cases.|
With friends like these, India’s women don’t need enemies.
If there was any “marayada” (“honor”) left in India’s leaders, they have squandered it. If there was any “laxman rekha” (a limiting boundary) to their decency and sense of compassion, they have crossed it.
The Hindustan Times has a similar list of disgusting comments by luminaries cutting across lines of party, region or religion.
Jyoti Singh Pandey, sacrificed her life to sate the brutal instincts of India’s perverted patriarchal culture. It is not just the six perpetrators who are responsible for this horrendous crime, but 1.2 billion Indians and especially their political and religious leaders, who refuse, even in this moment of unbearable sorrow, to bury forever their prejudiced and hateful mindsets against women. This mentality is founded upon a perspective that women were created to be man’s servants, a perspective which is considered to be a cornerstone of India’s “ancient culture” by many amongst us. If this is “culture”, then what is barbarism?
UPDATE: Given the bonanza of inappropriate comments in recent weeks, it is safe to turn this post into an archive where I will continue to collect more oral vignettes, in the “table of shame”, above. Readers are encouraged and invited to submit more such examples of shameful comments by public figures. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as they say.