Recently Republican candidate John Kasich came under fire by suggesting that women shouldn’t drink to avoid sexual assault. In response to a question posed by a college student, he replied, ‘I’d also give you one bit of advice. Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol. OK? Don’t do that’, thereby shifting the blame from the rapists themselves and onto the victims.
However this isn’t the first time, a prominent politician has made such a callous and insensitive statement. Closer home, Indian politicians have a notorious reputation for offering tips to women on how not to get raped which include not dressing up provocatively ‘like a prostitute’ to not frequenting night clubs and to even beg for forgiveness in the middle of a sexual assault.
Eyezine presents to you seven glorious instances when Indian politicians have told women how not to get raped:
1. Do Not Go Out At Night: Women can protect themselves by locking themselves in the safety of their homes. Stepping out at night is a strict no-no. Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi famously said, “What is the need for roaming at night with men who are not relatives? This should be stopped.”
2. Don’t Talk To Boys, Girls Should Interact With Girls Only: Yes, why should we girls talk to boys in the first place? Why should we interact with those who can rape us? Girls should talk to girls only. Of course, there’s the small issue of lesbianism to be noted so in that case the best course of action is not to let girls talk at all. Mamata Banerjee blames the interaction between sexes as the chief reason as to why a woman gets raped every twenty minutes in India: “Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options.” Yes, girls, let’s all subscribe to the Victorian ‘Angel in the House’ stereotype and be demure housewives. Better yet, let’s visit a doctor (with a husband as bodyguard of course) and have our lips sewn shut. Yes, let’s just shut up and give the poor men a rest. Interestingly this comment comes from the same women who previously referred to a brutal rape as a ‘sajano ghotona’ or fabricated incident.
3. Don’t Ever Wear Short Dresses And Short Skirts: Don’t dress the way you want. Don’t dress provocatively, ‘like a prostitute’. Dress modestly, keeping your body parts all covered. Wear salwar kameez when going out. Or better yet, wear the burqa all the time even if you die of asphyxiation. As Trinamool Congress Legislator Chiranjeet Chakroborty says, ‘Eve-teasing is a very old thing. It has been going on for ages. One of the reasons behind the increase in incidents of eve-teasing is short dresses and short skirts worn by women. This in turn instigates young men.’
4. Marry Before You Turn Sweet Sixteen: The best way to protect yourself is to opt for child marriage. By all means, make sure you find a husband by the time you reach sixteen who can fulfil all your sexual needs and you won’t have any need to interact with other men ever in your life. Former Chief Minister of Haryana particularly endorses this notion: “We should learn from the past… specially in Mughal era, people used to marry their girls to save them from Mughal atrocities and currently a similar situation is arising in the state. I think that’s the reason khap has taken such a decision and I support it.” Thus the marriage age should be lowered to 16 to prevent further rapes.
5. Don’t Ever Eat Junk Food: Listen to your parents when they say fast food is bad for health. Make sure you fast regularly as junk food contains substances that may incite men to rape women. Jitender Chhatar, the Khap Panchayat Leader, claims without any scientific proof:
“To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such act…Hence, our elders also advised to consume light and nutritious food.” An added benefit to not getting raped, is of course better health and a long life for both sexes.
6. Live in A Village: Blame everything on westernization that prompts women to sway from the rules laid down by ‘Hindu culture’. Urban cities, influenced by globalisation are a high-risk zone for women. Instead women should live in rural ‘Bharat’, as far away from western influence as possible to protect themselves from rape. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has been quoted as saying, ‘Such crimes hardly take place in ‘Bharat’, but they occur frequently in ‘India’. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes. They are prevalent in some urban belts. Besides new legislations, Indian ethos and attitude towards women should be revisited in the context of ancient Indian values.’
7. The Fault Is In The Stars: What do you do when you run out of excuses? Blame it on astrology, the position of the stars. After all if a woman is raped, the rapist is never at fault. A women’s fate is preordained, rape is written in the stars. Nothing can be done to prevent it, because of course you cannot argue with the gods, can you? Or with patriarchy, for that matter. As the Former Home Minister of Chhattisgarh has said, ‘Harm can come on a person if the stars are in adverse positions…We have no answer to this, only an astrologer can predict…We have no answer to this rising spate of crimes against women. Stars are not in position’.
Way to go, politicians!