Kathua rape case: Defence lawyer's misogynist statement on woman police officer reflects widely prevalent attitudes

British Prime Minister Theresa May cannot change the legal position and accept Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request to extradite Vijay Mallya. In much the same way, Modi can do little to change the law on rape in India. Both are helpless and can only make appropriate noises, because it is not in their hands. Blaming Modi is pointless. On the other hand, blaming ourselves as individuals with cemented mindsets is more likely to produce some badly-needed change and make the country safer for women and children.

There is no better example of ugly Indian male chauvinism than the recent remark of Ankur Sharma, the lawyer for the accused. Commenting on one of the officers investigating the case Shwetambari Sharma, he was quoted as saying, "She is a girl, how intelligent can she be?"

Kathua rape case: Defence lawyers misogynist statement on woman police officer reflects widely prevalent attitudes

File image of Ankur Sharma, defence lawyer in the Kathua rape case. News18

Ankur Sharma was not being insulting. He was simply regurgitating gender bias which has been in existence for a thousand years or more. In his psyche, the sentiment is hugely acceptable even if it is politically correct to deny it. Such thinking is prevalent in a majority of Indian men. Every single action of such men is coloured by a perspective which holds that women are not equals.

Ankur Sharma can be absolved for his statement, because in the seventy years since independence, we have all failed to go beyond lip service and a bit of window dressing in addressing this deep prejudice. His words dramatically indict this culture which is prevalent in India, one which maintains, nurtures and encourages disdain for females.

Regrettably, women are co-opted into becoming a part of this conspiracy. Mothers and aunts contribute in spades to the uneven divide.

The training and indoctrination begins from infancy — when a male child evokes macho celebration while a female child evokes dismay. Even in homes which have a liberal culture, sisters are taught to pamper brothers because they are supposed to be special. In marital relations, the wife waits for her husband to return from work and serves him with the finest selection of food before she takes the first bite. At larger family gatherings, male members of the family eat first.

The favouritism is total, and extends to food, education, gifts and freedom of movement.

Aunts and female neighbours still disparage any girl who has an opinion. Even the media celebrates the rare breakaways from this insidious equation. After all, these constitute the exception and not the rule. Young women are locked at home or supervised while their brothers do not face the same treatment. Even in the year 2018, it is acceptable to chastise a woman by telling her, "Keep quiet; what do you know?"

One wonders if these attitudes of men will ever change. However, it is the women who have to stop being their own worst enemies and letting themselves down.

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Updated Date: Apr 19, 2018 16:09:23 IST

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