'No country for women' seems to be an apt description of India as cases of heinous crimes against them are surmounting on a daily basis. From Uttar Pradesh, gruesome reports of two sisters being hanged after they were raped surfaced, shaking the Akhilesh Yadav government. But the Samajwadi Party (SP), instead of taking responsibility, shook its hands off the incident and even released reports stating that other Indian states had higher crime rates than UP.
Promoting Pramod Muthalik's stand on women freedom, Goa Minister Sudin Dhavalikar said, 'Women should not wear bikinis on public beaches for their own safety'. This comes close to Pramod's attempt to join BJP as a member again. 'Pubs not part of Indian culture', Dhavalikar further added bringing the cases of derogatory statements against women freedom to an all time high.
To add to the insult, when questioned on women's safety in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav's response was, "You're safe, aren't you?", portraying an appalling insensitivity to the issue, and receiving flak from UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon as well.
And now, a video showing leading Trinamool Congress (TMC) politician Tapas Pal making threats about raping women belonging to the opposition party has emerged, shaming the party and highlighting the prejudicial mentality that plagues the political class. The basic question that arises out of this incident is, if our leaders who govern the masses spread venom and talk of women as objects who can be controlled through heinous crimes like rape, what will the public perception be like?
The video, allegedly a few weeks old, shows Pal screaming threats of violence at rival party workers at Krishnanagar in West Bengal. In the same speech, he is shown threatening to rape women as well. 'If CPM tries to kill and intimidate our workers here, I will not spare them. I will send my boys and get CPI women raped if necessary."
Pal, however, denies the allegation and has said in a TV interview that he used the word 'raid' and not 'rape'. "I never used the word 'rape', I said 'raid' instead," he said, according to reports.
The entire video has captured Pal making threats of violence against CPM workers. He even brags about about being a gunda (thug) and carrying a revolver. "I move around with a revolver. I will pull the trigger myself. I have been a gunda. I have fooled around myself," he is seen yelling at the crowd.
In a democratic country like India, and also when movements such as #YesAllWomen are gaining prominence seeking equal rights for women, such misogynist comments have no place in any part of the society.
Besides this, laws in India haven't reached any crescendo regarding women rights but are slowly evolving. The laws have been developing alongside barbaric incidents such as the Delhi gang-rape in December 2012 that eventually resulted in stricter rape laws. It is high time that India moves from a system of regression to a responsible democracy that can map problems that need to be tackled beforehand.
Though TMC and Derek O'Brien condemned Pal's comments and initiated legal action, one question that arises is, shouldn't Tapas Pal's membership be revoked till he comes clean on it? Will the continual statements such as "we are taking action/sought for" by political class keep public ire at arm's length until the issue makes it out of prime focus news?
A new twist in the tale was Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat's statement that TMC leader Tapas Pal should be suspended for his derogatory comments. "To condemn his actions, there are no words. An FIR should be lodged against him and strict action should be taken. He should be suspended," said Karat.
Women rights activists Kavita Krishnan said Pal was instigating sexual violence. "He is clearly instigating sexual violence against women, he should be arrested for this," said Krishnan.
Politics or no politics, instigating crimes against women or other sections of the society is equal to muzzling "freedom and dignity of mankind" in general. Hope the leaders are listening.
Trinamool Chairperson is pained after hearing Tapas Pal's comments. A decision regarding the matter to be taken tomorrow: Mukul Roy
— AITC (@AITCofficial) July 1, 2014
Sensitive use of language is an obligation for role models in culture, politics and society. If that code is breached, public trust is lost
— Derek O'Brien (@quizderek) June 30, 2014