When the national capital witnessed protests over the gangrape of a physiotherapy student, who later died in Singapore, many expected that the authorities, especially the administration, would change their perception about the way women are viewed in our society.
But clearly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Take this example. In Kerala, considered to be India’s numero uno state with a literacy rate of over 93 percent, Rejath Kumar, a National Service Scheme officer, who is also a biology teacher, told a group of college students that a woman should not try and do everything a man does.
A report in The Hindu, quotes Kumar saying that a woman should lead an obedient life.
“If girls try to jump the way boys do, they would fall and their uterus would be displaced. As a Biology teacher, let me tell you that men need less than 10 minutes to impregnate a woman. However, the women have to bear a child for nine months. All girls must understand this,” Kumar said at a function mostly attended by women.
What is ironic is the fact that the function was organised by the state education department to focus attention on atrocities against women and women’s empowerment.
When a third year student, identified as Arya protested against the speech, Kumar turned his attention to her, stating that such a reaction did not bother him. According to Gulf News, Kumar said such girls (like Arya) would not rise to any level in life.
This however is not the first time those holding office have made derogatory comments against women.
President’s son Abhijit Mukherjee’s comment – those protesting in New Delhi were women who were ‘dented and painted’ – raised questions about how he percieved women, forcing his sister to come out and condemn what he said.
In January this year, spiritual leader Asaram Bapu said that the Delhi gangrape victim would have survived had she ‘called her attackers brothers and begged them to stop’.
Many believe that the only way change can be brought about in our society is through education. Right from parents to teachers, those responsible for moulding a child’s mind should inculcate basic values of equality and respect.
But despite repeated protests and awareness programmes, many of those in power are still to wake up and realise that times have changed, and they can no longer continue making outrageous statements and later go on to apologise and ‘withdraw’what they have said.
Or is it time that we also start penalising people for derogatory speech against women, which is already an offence among the many listed in our penal code.