On March 12 in Parliament, Sharad Yadav, head of the Janata Dal (United) and member of the Rajya Sabha, tried to prove he was cool. During a debate on the Insurance Bill, he broke off to talk about south Indian women. What this had to do with the matter at hand is questionable, but here’s what the Indian Express reported from Parliament:
“The women of the south are dark but they are… their bodies…”
At this point members sitting around him tried to bring him back to the topic at hand with cries of “Sharadji Bill”. But, Yadav was not finished yet and talked about the “dancing skills” of south India women.
Soon, Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien frantically waved at Yadav to stop.
Want to bet that when he spoke of “dancing skills”, this is what he had in mind?
When [DMK MP] Kanimozhi protested, the only one in the 243-member House to do so, Yadav shot back: “Just because it is a serious discussion, it doesn’t mean one has to be serious all the time”.
A clearly upset Kanimozhi appeared all set to press the issue, but NCP’s Praful Patel and O’Brien calmed her down. Just as members started settling down, NCP’s DP Tripathi stood up to quote Kalidas’s description of the ideal beautiful woman who has to be “slim and slightly wheatish”.
Ironically, Yadav is also the man who initiated a petition to impeach a judge over allegations of sexual harassment – the first time it’s ever been seen as grounds for impeachment in India.
While we’re outraging about the misogynist views that people like Mukesh Singh (who is on death row for the high-profile December 16, 2012 gang-rape of a young woman) and his defence lawyers have of women, Indian politicians routinely express their views on how women should behave and what they should look like, as well as let slip their terrible attitudes to women. Yadav isn’t the first politician to express unsolicited opinions that have to do with how he views women. And as you’ll see below, this isn’t even the first time he’s done it.
Here’s an ever-growing list of statements by politicians as reported in the media, ranging from idiotic to insane:
#1 Dayashankar Singh (BJP vice-president in Uttar Pradesh, now sacked)
“Mayawati is selling tickets like a prostitute. She gives tickets for Rs one crore and if there is someone who can give Rs 2 crore than she sells it for Rs 2 crore within an hour. If someone is ready to give Rs 3 crore by the evening, she gives the ticket to him. She is even worse than prostitute.”
#2 Suman Dutta (ABVP Leader, Jadavpur)
“These girls claim to be molested. Someone should tell them that only girls who have shame can be molested. These girls kiss men openly. This is what they do all day.” He then asked the crowd if they would “let their daughters and sisters kiss men in the open like these JU girls”.
– At a protest march demanding action against “anti-national” Left wing students at Jadavpur University.
#3 Dilip Ghosh (BJP State President, West Bengal)
“Jadavpur University girls are shameless. They have filed baseless complaints of molestation. They lean on boys and then complain of molestation. If they are so scared of their self-respect, why do they have to go the university?” Ghosh asked.
– At a press conference at the party’s Kolkata headquarters.
#4 Babulal Gaur (BJP leader and Home Minister for Madhya Pradesh)
“They should first worship at home.”
– Speaking to reporters, when asked about the debate on allowing women into the Shani Shignapur Temple.
#5 Narendra Modi (BJP President, Prime Minister)
“If we kill girl child in the mother’s womb, then what will happen to the world. If only 800 girls are born against 1000 boys, then 200 boys will remain unmarried. Will government do this job?”
– In an address to village residents in Jayapur.
#6 Maneka Gandhi (BJP leader, Minister for Women and Child Welfare)
“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc.”
– In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, in response to a question on whether the government plans to criminalise marital rape.
#7 Kedar Kashyap (BJP leader and Minister for School Education, Chattisgarh)
“Girls now a days focus more on make-up than their studies. Make-up won’t bring you identity, studies will; stop involving your mind into make-up, rather make-up your mind for future”
– Said during the Lok Suraaj campaign in Chetba village.
#8 Vajubhai Vala (Governor of Karnataka)
“Both girls and boys are intelligent…To achieve something in life you need to sacrifice something. Boys have to give up their specific addictions. Girls need to give up their fashion. You [girls] come to college for studies and not to participate in any beauty competition. You [girls] don’t need to get your eyebrows done, apply lipstick or trim your hair…”
– While delivering the valedictory address of the 103rd Indian Science Congress in Mysuru.
#9 Azam Khan (Samajwadi Party leader, UP Cabinet Minister)
“Two-and-a-half-year olds getting raped, why? It’s because of mobile phones. Even in villages people can download things… Rape cases have increased due to misuse of mobile phones by the younger generation.”
#10 Mahesh Sharma (BJP leader and Minister of State for Cuture and Tourism)
“You must also consider that there was also a 17-year-old daughter in that home. Kisi ne usey ungli nahin lagaayi”
– Speaking to The Sunday Express, about the Dadri attack in which a Muslim man was beaten to death and his son severely injured by a mob, supposedly for having eaten beef.
#11 Sharad Yadav (JDU chief and Rajya Sabha member)
“Who among us has never followed girls?”
– In the Lok Sabha, referring to the provisions of stalking and voyeurism in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013.
#12 Aziz Qureshi (Governor of Mizoram, former acting Governor for Uttar Pradesh)
“Agar Bhagwan bhi yahaan utar aayein toh rape nahin rok saktey…Rape cannot be stopped.”
– Speaking to reporters at the Raj Bhavan in Lucknow.
#13 Arun Jaitley (Finance Minister and BJP leader)
“One small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us millions of dollars in terms of lower tourism.”
– Addressing a conference of state tourism ministers.
#14 Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Cabinet Minister and BJP MP from Jaipur Rural, Rajasthan)
In view of safety issues, women scribes may be “better off pursuing off-field roles like that of news analysis as opposed to field reporting.”
– Speaking to women journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps.
#15 Tapas Pal (Trinamool Congress MP from Krishnanagar, West Bengal)
“If anyone from opposition or their wives and sisters are here, then listen up, if any one of your people touch anyone from TMC I will destroy you, I will not spare them. I will send my boys and they will rape people.”
– While making a public speech at Choumaha village, West Bengal.
#16 Naveen Tyagi (general secretary of the UP unit of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha)
“The girls who perform item numbers in films and remove clothes should be declared prostitutes. We feel the women who earn money by indulging in obscenity are prostitutes. They are spreading filth in society.”
– To reporters a day after the Mahasabha demanded that girls be banned from wearing jeans.
#17 Siddaramaiah (Karnataka Chief Minister and senior Congress leader)
“Is there no other news?”
– When asked by reporters about the rape of a 6-year-old at school that had Bangalore up in arms.
#18 Vinay Bihari (Independent MLA from Lauriya, Bihar)
“People who eat more non-vegetarian food like chicken and fish are inclined towards carrying out molestation and rape.”
– To a reporter, on the premises on the Bihar Assembly.
#19 Sudin Dhavalikar (Goa Minister for Public Works, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party member)
“For their own protection on public beaches, women should not wear bikinis…The (practice of) young girls going to pubs in short dresses does not fit in our culture. What will happen to our Goan culture, if we allow this? This must stop.”
– To reporters.
#20 Babulal Gaur (Madhya Pradesh Home Minister, BJP leader)
“It is a social crime which depends on the man and the woman. It is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.”
– Speaking about rape to reporters in Bhopal.
#21 Deepak Haldar (Trinamool Congress MLA from Diamond Harbour, WB)
“As long as the Earth exists, there will be rapes. Rapes have happened in the past and will continue to happen.”
– In a public speech in his constituency.
#22 Manohar Lal Khattar (Haryana Chief Minister and BJP leader)
“If a girl is dressed decently, a boy will not look at her in the wrong way…If you want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited. These short clothes are western influences. Our country’s tradition asks girls to dress decently.”
#23 Amit Shah (BJP President)
“When people feel helpless, they riot to protect the honour of their mothers and sisters.”
– On the Muzaffarnagar riots, addressing a Jat Mahasabha in Shyamli, UP just before Lok Sabha elections.
#24 OP Dhankar (BJP Kisan Morcha president from Haryana)
“When I was touring the constituency, I used to hear tales that some youths were bringing brides from Bihar and other places. I told them, Sushil Modi [BJP and RSS member from Bihar] is a good friend of mine, we will ensure a compatible match and do away with bringing brides from anywhere.”
– Addressing the Kisan Mahasammelan at Narwana, Haryana.
#25 Kailash Vijayvargiya (Madhya Pradesh Urban Development and Environment Minister and BJP leader)
#26 Murli Manohar Joshi (BJP MP from Kanpur, UP)
“I believe if yoga comes into the life of common people, then the daily incidents of rape, I would not say, they will cease to exist, but there will definitely be a decrease in them.”
– During a seminar on the “The Iyengar way – Yoga for the new millennium”.
#27 Sakshi Maharaj (BJP MP from Unnao, UP)
“A Hindu woman must have at least four children. Give one to the army, another to us religious leaders and teachers.”
– At a religious gathering in UP.
#28 Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader)
#29 Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP chief, UP)
“First girls develop friendships with boys. Then when differences occur, they level rape charges. Boy commit mistakes. Will they be hanged for rape?”
– At a rally in Moradabad.
“If anywhere such crimes (rapes) are minimum, it is in UP. The state has a population of 21 crore. Considering that, such incidents are very less.”
– To reporters.
#30 Abu Azmi (SP leader, UP)
“These days, the number of such cases has increased where girls go and complain whenever they want. If one touches them, they complain, and if no one touches them, they still complain. Then, the problem starts, and the man’s honour, which he has earned throughout his life, is destroyed. Rape with or without consent should be punishable as per Islam.
If any girl, whether married or unmarried, goes with a guy with or without her consent, they should be hanged.”
#32 Maneka Gandhi (BJP leader, Minister for Women and Child Welfare)
“As a parent who is sending a daughter to a college – or a son – I would expect her and him to be protected. And perhaps one of the protections is against themselves. When you are 16 or 17 you are also hormonally very challenged. So to protect you from your own hormonal outbursts, perhaps a lakshman rekha is drawn.”
– In an interview to NDTV ahead of International Women’s Day.
To download a full-sized version of a mahamotivational poster, click on the image below:
(Images of politicians have been modified from the following sources, linked to their names: Sharad Yadav; Aziz Qureshi; Arun Jaitley; Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore; Tapas Pal; Naveen Tyagi; Siddaramaiah; Vinay Bihari; Sudin Dhavalikar; Babulal Gaur; Deepak Haldar; Manohar Lal Khattar; Amit Shah; OP Dhankar; Kailash Vijayvargiya; Murli Manohar Joshi; Sakshi Maharaj; Mamata Banerjee; Mulayam Singh Yadav; Abu Azmi, Mahesh Sharma)