NEW DELHI: At a time when the country is still reeling under the aftermath of the death of a 23-year-old girl gang-raped on a moving bus in Delhi, our politicians and religious leaders continue to make outrageous remarks that will shock even the hard-hearted.
The latest salvo was fired by Sankaracharya of Puri Swami Sri Nischalananda Saraswati, who said that the western culture has destroyed age old values of the country.
He said incidents like the Delhi gang-rape does not happen all of a sudden, they happen when the lines of culture and values are crossed in the name of development and modernisation.
PTI quoted the Swami: 'Earlier sisters and brothers roamed freely but nothing used to happen. There has been decline in human values, emotions...Our culture and civilisation teaches us to respect women, who are our sisters and mothers.'
Here's a look at some recent outrageous comments by our politicos about women and rape:
Bharatiya Janata Party member of parliament from Chhattisgarh Ramesh Bais feels that rape of a grown-up woman is understandable but the rape of a minor is a henious crime.
Hindustan Times quoted the BJP MP saying: 'The rape of grown-up girls and women might be understandable but if someone does this to an infant, it is a heinous crime and the offenders should be hanged'.
Spiritual Guru Asaram Bapu has landed himself in a controversy over his remark that the December 16 Delhi gang rape victim is as guilty as those responsible for the barbaric sexual assault on her. "Only 5-6 people are not the culprits. The victim daughter is as guilty as her rapists...
She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop... This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don't think so," Media reports quoted Asaram Bapu, as saying.
According to media reports, the self-proclaimed godman further said that he is against harsher punishments for the accused as the law could be misutilised.
"We have often seen such laws are made to be misutilised... Dowry harassment law is the biggest example," he said.
Speaking to a Bengali-language television channel in his earlier assembly constituency Nalhati in Birbhum district, Abhijit Mukherjee, son of President Pranab Mukherjee, said on Christmas day that "highly dented-painted" women visited discotheques and then appeared at India Gate to protest the Delhi bus gang-rape.
"What's basically happening in Delhi is somewhat like Egypt or elsewhere, where there was something called the Spring Revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities. In India, staging candle-light marches, going to discotheques - we did all this during our student life too, we were students too - I know very well what kind of character students should have," Abhijit said.
"Those who claim to be students - I can see many beautiful women among them they were highly dented-painted - they're giving interviews on TV, they've brought their children to show them the scenes," he said.
"I have grave doubts whether they're students because women of that age are generally not students," said Abhijit, who was elected an MP from Jangipur Lok Sabha seat in Murshidabad to fill up the vacancy caused by his father's elevation to the presidency. He later apologised for his remarks.
CPI-M leader Anisur Rahman had ridiculed the Banerjee government's decision to compensate victims of crimes against women like rape and trafficking.
"We have told the chief minister in the assembly that the government will pay money to compensate rape victims. What is your fee? If you are raped, what will be your fee?," asked Anisur Dec 25.
"As an opposition leader, she took along Champala Sardar from South 24 Parganas district to the state secretariat, claiming she was raped."
"We then told her: "Don't bring such hela fela meye (girls without any position in society). Bring some good girls."
"And there can be no better girl than you. You can say you have been raped. We ask, didi moni (elder sister), what is your fee? How much will you take for getting raped," he asked.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had claimed that the incidents of rape were the result of adoption of western culture in society as a whole and that erosion of traditional Indian values were more pronounced in urban areas.
"Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won't happen in Bharat or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gangrape or sex crimes," he had said.
"Where 'Bharat' becomes 'India' with the influence of western culture, these type of incidents happen. The actual Indian values and culture should be established at every stratum of society where women are treated as 'mother'," Bhagwat added.
When asked to comment on recent sexual harassment cases in the country, with Madhya Pradesh in particular, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said: "Ek hi shabd hai - maryada. Maryada ka ulanghan hota hai, toh Sita-haran ho jata hai. Laxmanrekha har vyakti ki khichi gayi hai. Us Laxmanrekha ko koi bhi par karega, toh Ravan samne baitha hai. woh Sita-haran karke le jayega". (Whenever people cross their limitations, deterioration is bound to happen. It applies to everyone in the society. Whoever breaches the line, he/she will confront a Ravan)
The minister's remark drew sharp reaction from political parties as it triggered protests in the state and across nation causing major embarassment for BJP.
Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president Botsa Satyanarayana termed the Delhi gangrape incident a minor one and questioned the need for women to be out at midnight. He later withdrew his statement.
"Just because India got freedom at midnight, is it necessary for women to move on the streets at midnight?" he asked.
Botsa expressed the view that the woman should not have boarded a private bus at such an odd hour. "She should have assessed the situation before getting into the bus," he said.
"Though it was a minor incident, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was gracious enough to intervene and hold negotiations with the protestors to bring the situation under control. It is highly commendable on the part of Sonia to respond to the situation so quickly," he said.
Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar:
Senior Trinamool Congress leader Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar speaking to a news channel said, "If you're referring to the Park Street rape, see that is a different case altogether. That was not at all a rape case. It was a misunderstanding between the two parties involved between a lady and her client. This was not a rape."
She made this comment while reacting to another obscene comment made by senior CPI(M) leader Anisur Rehman on chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
After RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's remarks that rapes were prevalent in India and not in Bharat, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Saturday blamed the 'western model' of lifestyle for growing incidents of sexual assault on women including rape, saying cities were losing the values.
VHP international advisor Ashok Singhal termed as "alarming" the western model of living, which he said had been imbibed from the US.
"This western model is alarming. What is happening is we have imbibed the US. We have lost all the values we had in cities," Singhal told reporters in response to a question on the growing rape incidents in the country.
He particularly faulted the live-in relationship style when he said "it is not only foreign to our culture, but also hostile."
Virginity was preserved. But the purity has been totally disturbed (now)...we are losing it," he said.
In a regressive move, the Puducherry government has reportedly suggested redesigning of school uniforms to make it mandatory for girl students to wear overcoats to prevent sexual crimes.
"The meeting resolved to introduce overcoats for girl students, operate special buses for them and ban mobile phones in schools. Our government is committed to ensuring safety of women, particularly girl students," school education minister T Thiagarajan said
Thiagarajan reportedly also said the government will operate exclusive buses for girl students from the next academic yearhavign only women conductors.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has blamed "Bihari" migrants for the recent case of gangrape of a girl in New Delhi. "All are talking about the Delhi gangrape, but nobody is asking from where these men came. No one is asking who did this. So many cases are slapped against me (for speaking against Biharis) but no one is talking about the fact that all these rapists are from Bihar," he said, addressing a public function in suburban Goregaon last night.
"The system has collapsed," Raj said. (Agencies)