NEW DELHI ~ About three years ago, many in India were celebrating a progressive judgment by the Delhi High Court decriminalising homosexuality. India, they believed, was embarking on a new journey of liberty and personal freedom. But three years later, we seem to have gone the Taliban way. Forget homosexuality, our politicians are checkmating one another with their bizarre discourse on rape.
For starters, we have Mamata Banerjee, the firebrand leader from West Bengal, who brought the Communist government in the state to its knees. According to her, rape is news pollution. She believes that more incidents of rape are being reported across the country because men and women interact with each other too freely. She is nostalgic for the days when boys and girls holding hands would be reprimanded by parents. In the recent past, Mamata has also dubbed
incidents of rape in her state as fabrications to malign her government.
In Haryana, local politicians, of course, have khap panchayats to take inspiration from. One such panchayat in Jind district has blamed the increasing number of rapes on chowmein, saying that noodles cause a hormonal imbalance.
Another khap leader has said that girls should be married off early to escape rape. However, nobody asked him about a six-year-old girl who was gangraped in the state. But then, who can blame khaps when the Congress spokesperson in Haryana, Dharambir Goyat, believes 90 per cent of rapes are consensual. The state education minister, Geeta Bhukkal, has taken her cue from Mamata and called such incidents a conspiracy against the Congress government.
In just the first half of this year, 367 rapes have been reported. Many go unreported because of a sense of shame attached to rape in a feudal society like Haryana’s. If there were a spate of murders in the state, what could it be blamed on? Momos possibly.▪