In India, politicians making derogatory remarks about women is par for the course. However, Kerala’s Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran sank to a new low even by those abysmal standards. On Sunday, he insulted rape victims, claiming that “a woman with self-respect would kill herself instead of publicly accepting that she was sexually assaulted”. He later tendered an apology after public outrage.
Woman with self-respect if raped will die or avoid being raped again: Kerala Cong chiefhttps://t.co/duXFEVX7ci
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) November 1, 2020
“No one can trust a woman who publicly says she got raped. A woman with self-respect will kill herself if she is raped,” the Congress leader said while speaking at an agitation launched by the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Thiruvananthapuram against the allegedly corrupt practices of the Left Democratic Front government.
Ramachandran accused Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of resorting to “blackmail politics” by using names of women like Saritha Nair, a key accused in the Kerala solar scam of 2013. “Every day when she wakes up, she claims she was raped. A woman who says she was raped across the state, she’s dressed up and made to stand behind the curtain. She keeps asking when she should come out. Chief Minister, your game will not work here. This blackmail politics will not work here. The people of Kerala can understand it,” he said.
A female entrepreneur complains that she was repeatedly raped by ministers of last UDF Gov. Today @INCKerala president @MullappallyR calls her a prostitute & said that honorful women would've die, had they been raped, even once. Another reason why these monsters must be defeated. pic.twitter.com/bgmn6MLnh3
— pratheesh (@pratheesh) November 1, 2020
“As you (CM) drown and die, if you thought you can bring a prostitute and make her cook stories, Kerala is tired of hearing it…we can understand if a woman says she was raped once. Any woman with self-respect will either die or prevent being raped again. But, she keeps crying she was raped again and again all over the state. Senior police officers told me that you are planning to play politics by keeping such a woman in front,” he added.
Kerala Congress chief demeans rape survivors, says 'woman with self-respect would kill herself if raped'.https://t.co/WJ0axScB7i
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) November 1, 2020
The comments rightfully sparked massive outrage and sharp criticism across the board, from politicians to social media users. KK Shailaja, state women and child development minister, slammed his remarks, deeming them dangerous and inappropriate. “He says if women who are raped have self-respect, they will kill themselves. Is rape a woman’s fault? Are women not committing suicide because they lack self-respect? A woman subject to rape is not a criminal. The people committing the rape are the criminals. They must be punished. Women experience great physical and mental trauma. To say that they must kill themselves speaks of a person with a dangerous mind. This is completely wrong,” she said.
Rape is the worst & cruelest of crimes in human society. It is not the mistake of the woman who falls prey to such crimes. Mullappally Ramachandran shouldn't have made such misogynistic statements. Such remarks should widely be condemned: Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja https://t.co/SmNojE97DI pic.twitter.com/PEPnP4UGw8
— ANI (@ANI) November 1, 2020
Social media was in no mood to be kind either.
"Proud women will commit suicide if they are raped"
- Mullappally Ramachandran (KPCC President)
Mullappally should not apologize anymore. Apology is for human beings left with some iota of shame. You don't belong there.
— V P Sanu (@VP_Sanu) November 1, 2020
If I ever see Mullappally Ramachandran, I will break his fucking jaw.
It’s not a threat, it’s a promise. https://t.co/7T42rZCmcA
— Diet India (@dietIndiaa) November 2, 2020
INC Leader, Mullappally Ramachandran had said that, A girl who has been raped will commit suicide if she has self respect!
What the fuck is this, @MullappallyR?
Sexist, misogynistic piece of shit! Kerala, don't let him get away this time!#MullappalyShouldApologise
— Mark Alwin🌹☭ (@_ranting_indian) November 1, 2020
After the avalanche of criticism, the former union minister and seven-time MP, expressed regret for his remarks. “If these remarks were characterised as being aimed at anyone in particular, I express my regret. If these remarks were misrepresented as anti-women in certain quarters, it is not right. I said it only to prove the depths to which this (LDF) government has fallen,” he said.
If my remark has hurt anyone, I am offering my unconditional apology. There are campaigns by certain quarters to depict it as anti-women, which isn't true: Mullappally Ramachandran, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee Chief
— ANI (@ANI) November 1, 2020
Social media users have demanded the Congress party to take action against Ramachandran, who has been a serial offender. Calls have also been made for society to come together on this issue regardless of political affiliation and ensure that ‘monsters’ like him do not taste electoral victory. That would be a start to clean this mess.