Markandey Katju, Sit This One Out. “Unemployment” is No Excuse for Hathras Gang-Rape

Gender

Markandey Katju, Sit This One Out. “Unemployment” is No Excuse for Hathras Gang-Rape

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

If the name Markandey Katju rings a bell, it could be because he spent years holding prestigious offices like that of a Supreme Court Justice and Chairman of the Press Council of India. Or, it could also feel familiar from the former judge’s controversial statements on social media, which have attracted widespread outrage for the views expressed therein. Even as the entire country struggles to come to grips with the horrific rape of a 19-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh, Katju held forth on the topic, claiming that the need for sex was “a natural urge in men”. He then went on to link the crime of rape to unemployment figures, as if gender and caste were insignificant factors in the Hathras incident.

The reaction to Katju’s post was far from positive. Users on Twitter excoriated the logic on display, which included the suggestion that rapes occur because unemployed men cannot get married and satisfy their urges.

The fact that Katju is a former Supreme Court judge was not lost on commenters, who repeatedly brought up the contrast between the dignity of that office and the comments being made by Katju. There is no justification for rape, even it comes from a former Justice himself.

Shortly before this latest episode, Katju courted controversy in September when a woman shared screenshots of an awkward message exchange between her and Katju, where he asked her if she was sleepy and reminded her that “good girls go to bed early”. Once the screenshot went viral, Katju was called “creepy” and “predatory” by social media users.

Other bizarre statements by Katju include his assertion that only beautiful women could garner votes in politics, which culminated in his genius suggestion to install Katrina Kaif as India’s Prime Minister so she could perform an item number at her inauguration.

As a former judge, Markandey Katju is obviously familiar with the concept of freedom of expression. But perhaps he should give more consideration to how he uses that freedom himself.

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