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Tapas Pal Doesn’t Scare Me

Posted: July 4, 2014

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India’s politicians often make inappropriate, insensitive and misogynistic comments, and get away with it. This insightful post questions why.

Like many others, I watched a mediocre Bengali actor turned Member of Parliament (of the Trinamul Congress, of which Mamata didi is president) Tapas Pal screaming rape and retribution on TV. Horrendous as it was, I found it more sickening that the audience he was targeting was actually clapping and hooting at his threats of letting loose his men to rape women of an opposing political party.

Months ago, Ms. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, another MP from the same party had stated that the Park Street rape victim wasn’t raped at all, and that it was just a tiff between a prostitute and her clients, never mind the fact that all evidence pointed to the fact that the victim had been dragged into a car by a group of men and raped.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, a wrestler turned politician from the badlands of Uttar Pradesh considers rape a pastime for boys, while his son tells a female reporter that if “nothing has happened to you”, why should she raise questions about the Badaun rape-murders. After the Mulayam Singh “boys will be boys” episode, it confounded me that a lady from his Samajwadi Party- I think Madhu Gupta was her name- was actually defending her Netaji’s comments on TV.

Politicians mouthing inappropriate or downright offensive comments are nothing new…

Politicians mouthing inappropriate or downright offensive comments are nothing new; but as I said earlier, what appalled me even more was the clapping and hooting when Tapas Pal was mouthing obscene nonsense. This brings me to what I want to drive at- that we as a people are sexist and misogynist and think nothing of harassing or threatening women as part of our lives.

What I read in FirstPost sums up what I feel: “Tapas Pal doesn’t scare me. Those men, beyond themselves with glee just at the mention of rape, they scare me. And you know what, they’re not the only ones hooting and clapping at Pal’s show of masochism. God knows how many others, watching the clip on their phones, reading about it in papers and watching him on TV, are virtually joined in this celebration of misogyny.”

My younger daughter tells me of the stares – and more- she gets while walking down any road- that scares me.

I am a man, and a father of two daughters. My younger daughter tells me of the stares- and more- she gets while walking down any road- that scares me. My elder one, based in the UK, now tells me how she had been at the receiving end of stares and catcalls while she was in India- that scares me too.

Making noise about misogyny isn’t enough anymore; endless debates on TV aren’t enough either. It is time for swift, sure and severe punishment for sexual predators, misogynists, sexists and others of the ilk.


Pic credit: FerranJorda (Used under a CC license)

I am a former bureaucrat, and have worked a lot on gender issues, disaster management

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