Dismissing the SP strongman’s remarks as those of a motor mouth is to dismiss a massive malaise that afflicts India’s political class in general and it’s people in particular.

Mulayam Sharm o metres and Us
Voices Wednesday, August 19, 2015 - 05:30

If there is a place beyond shame in politics in India, it belongs this week to Mulayam Singh Yadav, President of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and former Chief Minister of India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh. Commenting on gang rapes in India, he has said it is impossible for four men to rape a woman. “One commits rape and then four are named. Kabhi aisa ho sakta hai kya? Aisa practical hi nahin hai (Can such a thing happen? It is not practical),” he said.

Mercifully he stopped delving in further details about gang rapes that occur more often than they get reported In India. He was speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony to distribute free e-rickshaws under a state government scheme. This is not the first time Yadav has dismissed rapes as sport. Speaking at a function in Moradabad in April this year he said “Boys make mistakes. They should not hang for this. We will revoke the anti-rape laws.”

Yesterday he urged his son Akhilesh Yadav, the current Chief Minister of UP to ensure that innocent people are not falsely implicated in rape cases. Dismissing the SP strongman’s remarks as those of a motor mouth is to dismiss a massive malaise that afflicts India’s political class in general and it’s people in particular. It is called “what you don’t want to see does not exist and cannot hurt.” Understanding this mass complicity is far from facile. It is harmful.

It helps shirk the very important task of putting a name to daily atrocities on women in India that range from rape to gratuitous violence, throwing acid on their faces and daily beatings. Yes, it also happens in New York and Sao Paulo, but we live in India and are concerned with our realities.

We as a nation were so shocked by what happened to Jyothi in December 2012, we called her Nirbhaya, the fearless. That enabled us to place a distance between her and the rest of us and we qualified that space as one where only the fearless go. It is this hypocrisy that creates space for people like Yadav to thrive.

There are similar remarks in Parliament that should make our lawmakers hang their heads in shame. It will just be matter of days before someone snatches that place of shame from the SP leader. What does this say about us as a society? Time to bring out our sharm-o-metres.  

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