“Women With Self-Respect If Raped Will Die”: Where Do We Even Begin With Netas Like Kerala Cong Chief?


“Women With Self-Respect If Raped Will Die”: Where Do We Even Begin With Netas Like Kerala Cong Chief?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

In India, politicians making derogatory remarks about women is par for the course. However, Kerala’s Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran sank to a new low even by those abysmal standards. On Sunday, he insulted rape victims, claiming that “a woman with self-respect would kill herself instead of publicly accepting that she was sexually assaulted”. He later tendered an apology after public outrage.

“No one can trust a woman who publicly says she got raped. A woman with self-respect will kill herself if she is raped,” the Congress leader said while speaking at an agitation launched by the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Thiruvananthapuram against the allegedly corrupt practices of the Left Democratic Front government.

Ramachandran accused Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of resorting to “blackmail politics” by using names of women like Saritha Nair, a key accused in the Kerala solar scam of 2013. “Every day when she wakes up, she claims she was raped. A woman who says she was raped across the state, she’s dressed up and made to stand behind the curtain. She keeps asking when she should come out. Chief Minister, your game will not work here. This blackmail politics will not work here. The people of Kerala can understand it,” he said.

“As you (CM) drown and die, if you thought you can bring a prostitute and make her cook stories, Kerala is tired of hearing it…we can understand if a woman says she was raped once. Any woman with self-respect will either die or prevent being raped again. But, she keeps crying she was raped again and again all over the state. Senior police officers told me that you are planning to play politics by keeping such a woman in front,” he added.

The comments rightfully sparked massive outrage and sharp criticism across the board, from politicians to social media users. KK Shailaja, state women and child development minister, slammed his remarks, deeming them dangerous and inappropriate. “He says if women who are raped have self-respect, they will kill themselves. Is rape a woman’s fault? Are women not committing suicide because they lack self-respect? A woman subject to rape is not a criminal. The people committing the rape are the criminals. They must be punished. Women experience great physical and mental trauma. To say that they must kill themselves speaks of a person with a dangerous mind. This is completely wrong,” she said.

Social media was in no mood to be kind either.

After the avalanche of criticism, the former union minister and seven-time MP, expressed regret for his remarks. “If these remarks were characterised as being aimed at anyone in particular, I express my regret. If these remarks were misrepresented as anti-women in certain quarters, it is not right. I said it only to prove the depths to which this (LDF) government has fallen,” he said.

Social media users have demanded the Congress party to take action against Ramachandran, who has been a serial offender. Calls have also been made for society to come together on this issue regardless of political affiliation and ensure that ‘monsters’ like him do not taste electoral victory. That would be a start to clean this mess.