Abhijit Mukherjee, member of Parliament from Jangipur in West Bengal and son of President Pranab Mukherjee, made a bizarre statement on Thursday about how he had his doubts about the veracity of the female student population in the anti-rape protests in Delhi over the last few days. He said the women looked “highly dented and painted” (whatever that means) for them to be students.
He was not alone in this shameful misogyny. BSP MP Shafiqur Rahman Barq, a member of the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, said that women wearing “provocative clothes” were responsible for the incidents of rape around the country.
Both the honourable MPs were accompanied by agricultural scientist Dr Anita Shulka in Madhya Pradesh who, incidentally at a seminar on “sensitivity towards women”, said that the “victim should have surrendered when surrounded by six men as then she could have saved her intestines.”
This misogyny shows that the struggle for women to feel safe is much harder than we thought. With such medieval attitudes, it would take generations before we are hopefully free of them.
Mukherjee has apologised for his words, perhaps because of the pressure brought upon him as son of India’s commander-in-chief. However, there remains the scepticism whether there will be a sea change in his attitude towards women.
If our women are ever to feel safe, the first step would be to change attitudes at home. That is where the miseducation of Mukherjee, Barq and Shukla began.