Sunday Interview: ‘Speaker must act against Tapas Pal’

Dr Ranjana Kumari, speaks to Sanjay Kaw about taking exemplary action against Mr Pal

Trinamool MP Tapas Pal is the latest politician who unabashedly made not just sexiest remarks, but promised retribution that was criminal in intent. Dr Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research, who has been fighting this mindset, speaks to Sanjay Kaw about taking exemplary action against Mr Pal and his ilk.

Trinamool Lok Sabha MP Tapas Pal’s rape for revenge remark has created a hue and cry in the country. As a women’s rights activist, how do you think such politicians should be dealt with?

A person who has taken constitutional pledge is making obnoxious and sexiest remarks against women is a very shocking and shameful thing. His remarks have a criminal and violent intent. He is trying to create a rift between two political groups. He is using his statement as an instrument of his political vendetta. He is supposed to be the guardian of the Constitution, but his act is a clear violation of the spirit of the Constitution. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan should initiate privilege motion against him. It is the moral duty of the Speaker to cancel the membership of such parliamentarians.

Trinamool spokesperson Derek O’Brien has said that his party has accepted Mr Pal’s written, unconditional apology for his remarks. He also said that the tone and manner of Mr Pal’s apology was right and the matter ended there itself.

Our Constitution guarantees to protect the dignity of women in the country. Mr Pal’s rape remarks not only violate the constitutional guarantee but also smack of sexism with criminal intent. After the amendment brought out in the sexual assault law post-December 16 incident in New Delhi in 2012, it is the duty of the state to take cognisance of such outrageous sexiest statements and file criminal cases against such persons. Just an apology in such cases is not enough.

Do you think Trinamool chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a woman, should have been tougher on Mr Pal?

It is shocking that a woman Chief Minister, who had once used a rape case as a major political plank and had made a commitment to protect women’s rights, has accepted Mr Pal’s apology as a face saver for her government. We expect a leader like her, who has risen through struggle to rise above politics and take strict action against her party colleague. Her action should work as a deterrent for all such sick-minded politicians across the country

Even Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had once said that rape accused should not be hanged as boys sometimes make mistakes.

It is very unfortunate that in a country like ours where women are facing sexual violence, such shameful statements are coming from such senior leaders.

What about SP’s Maharashtra unit head Abu Azmi, who said that “If a woman is caught (in a rape case), then both she and the boy should be punished. In India, there is death penalty for rape, but when there’s consensual sex outside marriage, there’s no death penalty against women”?

This is just degrading and demeaning women. Such statements are the product of a sick mindset. What can one expect from such leaders who are entrusted with changing society when they are promoting rape culture.

Once former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala said that child marriage was a solution to rape and other atrocities against women.

Such statements clearly reveal that women are just objects for them. But one must understand we are not use and throw material.

Even Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s statement that “if a woman is raped, she faces inquiry by one inspector, but in case someone wants to set up an industry, he has to face 16 inspectors” had created a major controversy. His PWD minister, Sudin Dhavalikar, has demanded a ban on mini skirts and bikinis.

I do not expect such things from such an educated Chief Minister. People like him are supposed to inculcate a culture of respect and dignity for women in society. And when the state is failing in protecting its people, such people resort to talking about bikinis and skirts. It is an irony that the city, which invites global tourists, intends to suggest that one should swim in a sari or a burqa to enjoy Goan beaches. My experience says clothes have nothing to do with sexual violence. If clothes were the reason for rapes, then why would a 70-year-old or a two-year-old girl be sexually assaulted. Statistics show that in 97 per cent cases the accused are known to the rape victims. It is shocking that you blame a victim for the crime, which is committed against her.

Even Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan’s remarks on sex education and use of condoms had created a big controversy.

He is a qualified doctor. It would be good for him not to give religious sermons. He should, in fact, encourage use of condoms to check the spread of HIV in the country.

How do you look at the role of women’s rights activists?

It is necessary for women’s rights groups to lodge strong protest against such people. It is equally important for them to put forward their own perspective on such mat-ters. It is the responsibility of such groups to mobilise people and There should be zero tolerance for such bizarre statements.

( Source : dc )
Next Story