In the recent past when the snooping allegations linked to the Pegasus spyware made headlines, the congress supporters on social media came up with the snooping allegations against Narendra Modi that made a lot of noise in 2013. Two investigative websites — Cobrapost.com and Gulail.com claimed to have access to 267 audio recordings that had been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). They said that the recordings contain telephone conversations in which Amit Shah, a close aide of Modi, directed the illegal surveillance of a young woman. Well, the story just remained in the caption and Modi became a powerhouse thereafter. This is not the first time that any minister came under controversy for having links with women or eyeing on her. Politicians snooping women for their own reasons are not new.
But things have gone beyond stalking or possessing any one, rather these days aspiring female politicians happily rendering sexual favors to achieve her career goals, if a woman is using her sexuality to go ahead, she wouldn’t just be getting everything her way. We have seen in many Hindi films like Satta, Rajniti and the recent web series like Tandav and Mirzapur where a woman is shown happily satisfying politician’s lust to gain a position or seat to contest elections. It’s like you scratch my back and I scratch yours. If she gets that preference, she must also be ready to accept or deal with the advances of the man who enabled it. So more often than not, it becomes cumbersome for her when she does that.
While Indian politicians are eager to talk about women’s empowerment and the political legacies of India’s female politicians, no one talks about the exploitation and illicit affairs. In Maharashtra politics we hear many such stories. Recently, a tigress like female politician was shunted out of a regional political party because the wives of male politicians made complaints to the party supremo of this lady having affairs with their husbands. She was not only receiving monetary and career wise benefits but lured all men in such a way that the families were at the verge of breaking. Whereas no one questioned the involvement of Male politicians or any action taken against them.
Many veteran politicians are having affairs with dancers in Tamasha or females from the glamour industry. Love, lust and extra marital affairs are a casual occurrence in politics. But running a racket by alluring young women in such traps has become a dangerous trend these days. There are many female politicians who trap young aspirants for their senior’s pleasure. This is a very vicious cycle, as the female politician reaches her middle age, she traps vulnerable newcomers as prey to climb her ladders. The girls get into bait without even realizing their plight ahead. They enjoy all that momentary feeling of power by being around the political arena or by clicking pictures with politicians for their social Shosha but end up devastated.
Sense of superiority drags then to invisible prostitution, because to remain in political corridors they lay themselves to who so ever they find in power at that moment of time. Despite global progress in women’s position in politics, such incidences are inevitable. There is a saying “a female can succeed in politics if she has bed or bread relation”. Either she has to be from a family of political background or she has to have bed-relations with politicians to climb the ladders or even get an opportunity. Politics is overwhelmingly male-dominated. Time has changed and there are some women politicians who have been talking about #MeToo in politics.
Sexual or psychological violence against women in politics has great examples like late Jayalalithaa to various female leaders and party workers. In January 2013, some young women leaders apprised Sonia Gandhi in a closed-door session about the “psychological and physical exploitation” at the hands of some male senior party leaders. Look at the irony, those days Congress on the other hand decided to grant 30% reservation to women at every level in the party, but their female force was fighting for her fate.
Well! Promptly acting on the complaint, Sonia Gandhi instantly asked for setting up women’s grievances redressal and legal cell within the party. Gandhi, who actively participated in the sub-group discussing issues of women, asked women to come out with the incidents of harassment faced, if any. Encouraged by her intervention, several women participants in the group complained about male party leaders torturing them and pleaded for justice.
Can you imagine what must have happened after that? All those who made complaints are out of politics today. There was huge noncooperation from male counterparts, lack of unity in female politicians and no openings ahead compelled them to leave politics. Similarly, there were many stories of female exploitation in the BJP IT cell. For that matter, no political party is different in such slant.
Violence against women in politics is widespread. There are many women Members of Parliament (MPs) and other female politicians who had experienced acts of psychological violence, which included, threats of death, rape, beatings or abduction during their parliamentary terms. Acts of psychological violence against women MPs are especially profuse online and on social media.
Sexist and misogynistic remarks, humiliating images, mobbing, intimidation and threats against women in public life or women who express political opinions publicly have become commonplace. Young women MPs and those who are active on social media singled out for attacks. Those females who have forefathers in politics or families in politics, have less threat. Nepotism is quite prevalent here. We might be progressing or getting empowered, but some conventional rules of politics will not change so soon, especially the exchange of all that, what we call immoral.