In a shameful, regressive, derogatory and humiliating statement, Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav made a much controversial and sexist statement just prior to the LokSabha elections.While delivering a speech for his election campaign, he reduced the crime of rape to a mistake and said that boys sometimes make mistakes. They should not be hanged. Mulayam went further ahead and said that he will amend the law in this regard if he comes to power. One question which arises in my mind is who is his vote bank, rapists? Which particular segment of population is he seeking to appease?
Why such an attitude, no one knows. Would he say the same for women he loves? Abu Azmi, his party member in Maharashtra went one step ahead and said that women who have sex outside marriage should be hanged, even if the sex is forced upon the girl and happens without her consent. In short, he seemingly is trying to imply that rape victims should be hanged. Although his son and daughter-in- law are against his views, this does not better his mindset. Such patriarchal attitude of men should be done away with. One cannot live in a society which is so insensitive towards women.
Causing a public outrage with the National Commission of Women (NCW) sending a notice to the SP chief, Mulayam soon retracted from his statement saying that no party respects women more than his own. Giving absurd, wrong, character assassinating, sentiment hurting and sexist statement by minister in speeches has become a common occurrence today. They lack broader outlook. It is saddening to know that such people are representing us nationally and internationally. What message are we trying to propagate to the masses? What about the illiterate, loyal population who take their word as Gospel? Imagine if such speeches influence them.
Celebrities reacted strongly against Mulayam Singh’s and Abu Azmi’s comment. Ayesha TakiaAzmi used harsh words against her father in law. To quote her exactly, “If what I’m reading about my father-in-law’s statements is true then me and Farhan are deeply embarrassed and ashamed… We surely do not share this mindset… It’s disrespectful to women. If these statements are true then it’s sad.”FarhanAkhtar took to social networking site to rant over the issue – “Cannot get over MS Yadav’s comment on rapists- ‘Boys will be boys.. They make mistakes’. It’s pathetic! Abu Azmi meanwhile, wants to hang women who willingly have sex. I think he needs to hang up his boots and seek medical attention ASAP.”
Women politicians have also come out in the open to express their disbelief over his comment. According to Brinda Karat, “One may oppose the death penalty for rape offenders, but to trivialize rape as a “small mistake” as the Samajwadi Party President ShriMulayam Singh Yadav has done, is most shocking and condemnable. It underlines the urgent necessity for a code of conduct for political leaders against sexist and anti-women remarks.”
He also faces the ire from women activists. So no doubt he retracted under pressure. As for voters, we surely deserve better politicians.