#DespiteBeingAWoman. Well, it turns out that it’s no longer just Modi’s ministers and party leaders who are prone to making gaffes and inappropriate statements, as our Prime Minister kicked off a row with his sexist remarks about Bangladesh’s Prime Minister. “I am happy to say that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, despite being a woman, is boldly saying that she has zero tolerance toward terrorism,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event hosted by the University Of Dhaka, forgetting his nation’s own history. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi successfully presided over India’s 1971 war with Pakistan and was ranked as one of the fiercest leaders of the 20th Century. While the PM’s remarks have come as a shock to many, if one peruses through some of his past statements below, it seems like an inevitable outcome which was long overdue.
The underbelly of Indian culture has always been laced with deep misogyny and patriarchy. The sudden awakening of our moral conscious about women’s rights in the past few years however (if you can call public outrage via social media that dies out quicker than a matchstick’s flame that) has brought to focus the dark reality which would often stay on the fringes. Sadly, much of it has been fuelled by our own, ‘venerable’ political leaders.
These so-called pillar-bearers of our society seem to enjoy immense popularity, both among men and women, but very few seem to have watched Spiderman or at the very least, imbibed the message the webbed superhero seems to stand for. You know, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and all of that. From statues and money garlands to sometimes even temples, they are idolized to an unparalleled extent, which places their public behaviour under severe scrutiny and this is exactly why every word they say carries weight.
In that vein, Homegrown presents some of most anti-women statements made by our political leaders in recent years. Some of the names on the list are habitual offenders while a few names might actually surprise you. In a country where the politician’s wives and daughters are either kept hidden from public scrutiny or used as election bait, a fresh glimpse of hope was given by Mr Kejriwal’s acknowledgement of his wife’s role. Yet, the sheer amount of negative statements and attitudes makes us conclude that a long journey lies ahead for women’s rights in India.
Sad Fact: We were spoilt for choice from the plethora of insensitive remarks.
1) Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister on 7th November 2014 during a rally in Jayapur.
He followed it up by saying “Beti Nahi Bachaoge toh Bahu Kahanse Laoge?” ironically for his “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” campaign on 23rd January ,2015.
We weren’t aware that women are utilitarian, Mr. Prime Minister.
2) Yusuf Bhat, Congress Member, November 11, 2014 .
Well, we feel you are a severe liability on Indian Democracy.
3) Arun Jaitley, Finance and Defence Minister, August 22, 2014.
While he corrected his statement later, the damage was already done. The fact is that a series of incidents have prompted advisory from various countries against travel for women in India. Whether his statement was intentional or not, this is only more proof that politicians really need to choose their words more carefully, lest they give out the wrong message.
4) Tapas Pal, Trinamool Congress MP “warning” CPM , July 2014.
We wish someone had taught you a lesson in decency, morality and even being a human.
5) Abu Azmi, SP leader for Maharashtra, on a possible solution to rapes, April 11, 2014.
Your own son and daughter-in-law had to come out and shamefully condemn you for this statement, Abu Azmi. Enough said.
6) Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party Chief, on the strict Anti-Rape laws passed, April 10, 2014.
Boys will be boys is cute for toddlers fighting over toys but nothing more than that. Ever.
7) Asha Mirje, NCP leader and Maharashtra Woman’s Commission Member, 29th January 2014.
How can one spot a potential rapist? Are our criminal records highlighted on our faces or the intentions of those we know?
Satyadev Katare, Congress leader in MP, April 24, 2013.
Don’t worry. After this statement, we’re certain every woman in your life must have ignored you as their eyes must be busy looking at the floor in shame from being associated with you.
9) Babulal Gaur, BJP leader, January 13th, 2013
Traditions and culture such as dying in your husband’s funeral pyre, getting married before you are an adult, becoming a subservient to the men in your life etc. etc. Yes. It’s all the fault of the West.
10) Congress MP and president’s son Abhijit Mukherjee on the Delhi protests, 27th December, 2012
Going to Discotheques is as much connected to rapes as Chetan Bhagat is connected to great literature. Can we please stop victim blaming, no matter how subtle?
11) Botsa Satyanarayana, Andhra Pradesh Congress chief reacting to the Delhi Gangrape, December 24th ,2012.
India may have gotten freedom from the British. But it’s still waging a war with patriarchy.
12) Sanjay Nirupam, Congress MP against BJP leader and TV actress Smriti Irani during a television debate,December 20th, 2012.
A “Char Din Hue Raajneeti Main Aye” leader just wiped your party from Delhi. And that “Thumke” lagati is a cabinet minister in the Central Government right now.
13) Mulayam Singh Yadav addressing a public rally in Barabanki, November 8,2012.
Male Chauvinist? Like labelling and profiling physical beauty? Presenting the next judge for Miss Universe Pageant.
14) Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat on Sunanda Tharoor, October 29, 2012.
Have you ever heard of making a non-sexist accusation?
Rajpal Saini, BSP MLA while addressing a gathering in UP,22nd October 2012.
After listening to you - why do women even need men? Single women don’t die. They go on to live longer.
16) Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister, October 15,2012.
This is not the Poribartan anyone wanted. This is still the same old cesspool of regression.
17) Om Prakash Chautala, Ex-Chief Minister of Haryana supporting the suggestion by a Khap Panchayat in Haryana that girls should be married off early to prevent rapes, October 10, 2012.
A shocking fact to Indian parents - A girl child is a human being with rights and wishes - like who she can marry, when to marry, and if at all she wants to marry.
18) Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union Coal Minister, comparing a woman to cricket match victory celebration on hearing the news of India’s victory over Pakistan in a ICC World Twenty20 match,October 2, 2012.
Because men have youthful immortality right?
19) Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Home Minister, September 20th, 2012.
Subtle sexism at its worst.
20) Mulayam Singh Yadav on Women’s Reservation Bill, March 24, 2010.
40,000 years of all-male rule and this is the world we inhabit. Let’s give all-women rule a shot. What say?
Muqtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP leader soon after the 26/11 attacks in 2008.
So a woman voicing her opinion is a terrorist?
Words: Devang Pathak