In just the last week, two separate cases of rape made headlines, even as many more went by unreported and uncovered. And yet, many of our leaders waste no time in further suffocating women's rights in society by advocating flawed and illogical beliefs and making regressive, sexist statements on national TV. Statements like these:
1. INC MLA Sajjan Singh Verma questioned the need for raising a woman's eligible age for marriage from 18 to 21 by stating that a woman is ready for reproduction at the age of 15.
2. Ranjeet Bahadur Shrivastava, BJP MLA, believed the gangrape in Hathras to be an incident of honor killing. He went on to talk about how, if the woman was not dragged and found dead in a certain location, then it couldn't be gangrape. As per the CBI chargesheet, it was later confirmed that the victim was gangraped.
3. Actor Deepika Padukone stood in support of JNU students after masked hooligans attacked the campus. Consequently, BJP Member Gopal Bhargava commented that heroines should stick to 'dancing' and not enter politics.
4. Chief of the Kerala Congress unit, Mullappally Ramachandran, stated that women with self-respect would rather die than be raped again.
5. After a woman was raped by the temple priest in Baduan, NCW executive, Chandramukhi Devi, blamed the woman for stepping out alone, at an 'unreasonable' hour.
6. BJP MLA Surendra Singh stated that incidents like rape can only be avoided by teaching girls about 'sanskaar'. He made no mention of teaching boys anything, even sanskaar.
7. Bihar's CM Nitish Kumar, instead of asking women to cast their own votes, relegated their rights to the kitchen instead.
8. Ram Kadam, Maharashtra MLA, addressed the young men in the crowd during a dahi handi event and stated he'd help them 'kidnap' the girls they are interested in.
9. After women were collectively harassed on New Year's eve in Bengaluru in 2016, the then Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka blamed it on 'Western mindset' and 'clothing'.
10. After the infamous Hathras gangrape incident, Justice Katju commented that unemployment is the reason for the rise in rape cases, adding sex is a 'natural urge in men'.
11. BJP MP Shivraj Singh Chouhan stated that working women should be 'tracked for their safety' but made no remarks about tracking or teaching men about consent.
12. During the hearing on Farm Laws, CJI Bobde commented that he didn't understand women--who actually undertake 70% of farm labour--were part of the protests.
These statements provide positive reinforcement, and at times, even inspire, the general populace to continue treating women as secondary citizens. It's high time that these leaders are held accountable for their misogynistic statements, all the time, and not just occasionally.
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