“Showing bare knees by wearing ripped jeans just to look like rich kids is the value given now which is just a race towards westernisation when the Western world today is following us. Ripped jeans pave the way for societal breakdown and is a bad example parents set for children.”
Sounds familiar, right? Yes, this atrocious statement was recently made by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat, who equated wearing ripped jeans to a lack of morals and values.
Soon after he made the remark, social media was flooded with images of women wearing ripped jeans, all of whom had come together to protest against such moral policing.
It is not just heartbreaking but extremely unfortunate that the leaders we elect to power are the same people who often demean women, trivialise rape and and believe that our girls belong in the kitchen.
CM Rawat is definitely not the first person in power to have made such a ridiculous statement. Over the years, several powerful people have made claims that disappointed us, outraged us and led to social media rebellions.
Let us take a look:
- After the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case that shook the collective conscience of the country and led to several protests, President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijeet Mukherjee claimed that the women participating in the protests were “pretty women who were dented and painted”. In an interview to ABP Ananda, Mukherjee said, “These pretty women, dented and painted, who come for protests are not students. I have seen them speak on television, usually women of this age are not students.”
- In a bizarre statement, Haryana khap panchayat leader Jitender Chhatar had said: “To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents (rape). Chow Mein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts.”
- SP’s state president Abu Azmi dew flak in 2014 when he made a disturbing statement on rape survivors. He said, “If a woman is caught (in a rape case), then both she and the boy should be punished. In India, there is death penalty for rape, but when there’s consensual sex outside marriage, there’s no death penalty against women.”
- West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in 2013 that the rising number of rape cases was connected to increasing population.“You say rape incidents are on the rise. But the population is also swelling. Is the population in the state the same as it was during the tenure of (the state’s second chief minister) BC Roy?” she said. “There are more cars now. Shopping malls are increasing. Young boys and girls are becoming more modern,” Banerjee added.
- There was outrage after Daya Shankar Singh compared Mayawati to a prostitute. He said: “Even a prostitute fulfils her commitment to a man after she is paid. But Mayawati, such a big leader in UP, sells party tickets to anyone who pays her the highest amount. If someone gives her Rs 1 crore for a ticket, she will give it to the other person who is offering Rs 2 crore.”
- Bihar Health sinister Mangal Pandey had equated virginity and purity saying “Virgin, as per the dictionary, means an unmarried and pure girl. So all these words are not objectionable.”
- Claiming that wives become boring and bland as time passes in a marriage, former Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said, “Nai nai jeet aur nai shadi ka apna alag mahatva hota hai. Jaise jaise samay bitega jeet ki yaden purani hoti jaengi. Jaise jaise samay bitata hai patni purani hoti jati hai, wah maja nahi reh jata hai.”
- While opposing death penalty to three men convicted in a gangrape case in April 2014, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had said, “boys will be boys, they commit mistakes”, adding that girls should be blamed for rape as they get friendly with boys and when they fight and have differences, they term it as rape.
- After the horrific Badaun rapes in 2014, home minister of MP Babulal Gaur was quoted as saying, “This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong.”
- The chief of RSS, Mohan Bhagwat said that Bharat is a safer country than India. He said: “Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in “Bharat” or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes.”
- Mulayam Singh, on being asked about the women’s reservation bill, said that only rich women are good-looking. He said: “Bade ghar ki ladkiyan aur mahilaaon ko fayda milega. Humari gaon ki gareeb mahilaaon ko nahin. Akarshak nahi hoti… bas itna kahoonga.”
- Former home minister of Karnataka, K J George, had said that there have to be more than two perpetrators for it to be called a gang rape. “How is it a gang-rape if two people rape? Shouldn’t there be at least three or four people for it to be called gang rape?” he had said.
- Former Andhra Pradesh Congress chief, Botsa Satyanarayana, said that women should not step out at night. He said: “Just because India achieved freedom at midnight does not mean that women can venture out after dark. They should ensure that they do not board buses with few passengers.”
- Three days before the Maharashtra assembly elections 2014, NCP leader RR Patil said that a certain MNS candidate Sudhakar Khade charged with rape should have committed the crime after the elections. He said, “If he wanted to contest from this seat and become an MLA, he should have committed the crime after the elections.”
- Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) member Dharamvir Goyat claimed that the “majority of rapes in the state are consensual”. “If we go into the details of rape cases and abductions, it is found that victims and accused in 90% of cases are runaway couples. So the cases are consensual,” he said.
- Dinesh Reddy, former police chief of Andhra Pradesh, in 2011 blamed “provocative” dresses for rapes. He said, “Now, wealth has increased, corporate styles have seeped into the villages bringing in liquor and other cosmopolitan cultures.” He added: “These modern women are more vulnerable to rapes,” he said, saying, “”When you are taking food which gives good josh (energy), you tend to be more naughty as time passes. I am giving you down-to-earth facts. Rapes are not in the control of the police. Even the villagers from coastal Andhra are wearing salwar-kameez (as against traditional dress). All these things provoke.”
- Former chief minister of Haryana, Om Prakash Chautala, said that it is better to get girls married off while they are young. He said, “We should learn from the past, especially in the Mughal era, people used to marry their girls to save them from Mughal atrocities and currently a similar situation is arising in the state.”
We hope that there comes a time when people in power realise that making derogatory, ignorant and sexist remarks is not cool. We want leaders we can look up to, not those who are insensitive and disrespectful.