Some incidents in India have predictable follow-up reactions. Molestation of women is one of them. A large number of women were sexually assaulted by mobs on MG Road and Brigade Road in the heart of Bengaluru on new-year eve. Politicians came up with their disgraceful remarks, the remarks that expose the medieval mindset of our political masters—at any rate, of a section of them.
Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara cavalierly told a Times Now, “In events like New Year or Christmas Day, there are women who are harassed or treated badly. We take precautionary measures. But, unfortunately, on days like New Year, a large number of youngsters gather on Brigade Road, Commercial Street, and MG Road. And youngsters are almost like Westerners. They try to copy the West, not only in their mindset but even in their dressing. So some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kind[s] of things do happen” (emphasis added).
Notice the complete absence of shock; sexual assaults do happen. Also notice the blame-the-victim syndrome: women wear Western, revealing clothes, so they get groped. The onus is not on the molester but the molested.
Parameshwara is not alone expressing such regressive views. Samajwadi party leader and MLA Abu Azmi also believes that the victims are responsible for the incident. “If my sister or daughter goes out with another man to celebrate the New Year and her father or husband is not with them, do you think she will be safe? I don’t think so,” he told CNN-News18.
The proper way, he might have added, is followed by the authorities in Saudi Arabia where a woman can go out of her home only with husband or relative. Azmi went on comparing women with sugar and petrol, adding that where there is sugar, there will be ants and that petrol will always attract fire. “In modern times, nudity is considered fashionable. It’s a huge blot on Indian culture,” he told ANI.
Thankfully, the Samajwadi Party condemned Azmi’s statement. Party leader Juhie Singh told CNN-News18: “It’s really unfortunate that Azmi thinks like that. The party condemns it. He should apologize.” Perhaps the remark by Juhie Singh, who is close to UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, has something to do with the Mahabharata going on within the party. Be that as it may, this is a welcome change for the party whose patron Mulayam Singh Yadav once almost condoned sexual assault by saying that boys would be boys.
What the politicians like Parameshwara and Azmi don’t realize, or don’t want to realize, is the fact that revealing attires have nothing to do with molestation or the behavior of unruly men. These goons also go to five-state hotels, malls, pubs, etc., but they are generally sober at such places, for they know that there would be bouncers around and the owner of the property would be somebody not to be trifled with.
Many of the hooligans also travel to Western where skimpily dressed women are all around. There are beaches, even nude beaches. How often have you heard rowdy Indian men molesting women in, say, France and the US? The reason is obvious: they know that any misdemeanor would mean a brush with the law with unpleasant consequences, which may include deportation. You can’t tell a British cop, “Jaanta naheen mera baap kaun hai?”
But you can say that in India. Besides, you can also rely on the incompetence of and dereliction of duty by cops. So, typically, Karnataka police have given the excuse that no action has been taken against the new-year eve culprits because complainants haven’t bothered to file reports.
The long and short of it is that the unruly in our country know that supposedly long arm of the law is not long or strong enough to catch them. Women in India would be safe only if police act swiftly and firmly against molesters—and politicians goad them to do that. Unfortunately, by making outrageous remarks, our netas end up helping molesters.
Women’s safety, at any rate, has nothing to do with what they wear.
Picture: Courtesy India Today