Be punished for what you speak
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith each passing day the “2014 General Elections” staggered over five weeks and 9 phases is deteriorating into cheap and tripe banter. Politicians especially those in the Hindu heartbelt of India are resorting to gimmickry of words at the expense of the dignity of women to create a stir amongst supporters at rallies, comprising largely of men.
Suddenly ‘sex’and ‘rape’ supposedly taboo subjects in the conservative Indian society is central electoral subject matter and of immense interest to the politicians.
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday shocked the nation with his opinion on the issue of rape at a public rally in Uttar Pradesh in which he said “Ladkon se aisi galtiyan ho jati hain, to iska matlab yeh to nahi ki unhe phaansi de di jaaye (Boys make mistakes, but this doesn’t mean you hang them).”His comments no doubt evoked a hue and cry from women rights crusaders and leaders from opposing political spectrums. It certainly evoked a strong reaction from the parents of the young girl nick named “Nirbhahya” whose gruesome rape and murder galvanized the youth of the country to wake up to forming a law for rape in the country. The underlying message from Nirbhaya’s parents were “ how can the law of the country allow such men to participate in elections and with convictions such as those expressed by the Samajwadi Party leader, how can women, feel safe in the country?”they asked.
Close on the heels of Mulayam Yadav’s warped and misplaced view of rape not as a crime but merely a “mistake” comes Mumbai Central Samajwadi Party Leader , Abu Azim’s remarks. He is quoted by mid-day.com as saying “Any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn’t be allowed even if a woman goes by consent.” It is high time the laws of the country admit punitive actions and book people who misuse the fundamental right of speech to propagate derogative and repressive ideas.
Watching these dramatic scenes unfold one cannot but help compare the issues which dominate elections in the northeastern states. For all the common strife that the region faces, guarding India’s longest international boundaries, there has never been an instance when any of the region’s political leaders have trampled on the dignity of women in their public speeches for political gain.
Yes, women in the northeast are yet to find their place in a strong parochial society but its leaders to their credit, have never passed moral comments on women and certainly not in the context of “rape “and “sex” in public domain.
Not so long ago when the murder of the teenager from Arunachal Pradesh shattered the nation’s capital there was a cry of discrimination and a campaign to express “Indianness”. Today, the “hate” campaigns and derogatory references to women in the 2014 general elections are alien to the electorate in this part of the country. Disgusing sincerity in the veneer of “prejudiced”remarks on women should be decried.
There are two types of offenses in Brazil when it comes to hate speeches. Both are punishable by prison time under the 1990 law, which was passed after two decades of military dictatorship but is increasingly visible today. One has to do with insults directed at a specific person based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. The second is the expression and encouragement of prejudice toward the same groups in general. Perhaps the law should be adopted here in India by extending it to cover the status of “women”