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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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Victim-blaming with twists: First jeans and now cell phones lead to rape. Is this really the 21st century?

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Article by Sabir Hussain, The North-Eastern Chronicle

Visuals by: Rahul Haloi

Our society often indulges in victim-blaming. They say women are raped because of wearing short clothes, because of exposing their bodies. Some say that unemployment is the cause of rape where some claim that it is a natural urge in men. We all are not even shocked after hearing all this now, as we got to know that our society is misogynistic. But hearing a misogynist comment from a person who is working for women’s welfare is shameful.

Meena Kumari, a member of the UP State Women’s Commission during a Mahila Jansunwai said that girls should not be given cell phones when press reporters asked her the reason for girls being raped. She did not use the word ‘rape’ but said that “Girls should not be given mobile phones because they talk to boys and later run away with them.”

Also read: What happens behind the bars? Rape and sexual harassment in prisons of India

She appealed to parents, especially mothers to keep the devices away from their daughters. When further questioned on how rapes are linked to mobile phones, Kumari said, “I listen to grievances of 20 women on average daily and at least five to seven cases are related to friendships over cellphones and their after effects. In many cases, girls were lured to a certain place and then sexually assaulted.”

rape

What about other rape cases, where minor girls are raped, where daughters, sisters get raped by their own family? How will she link the cellphone issue here? These kinds of illogical statements were also given earlier. Chow Mein, condom advertisement, and wearing jeans was linked to rape, as well.

Vinay Bihari, a state minister, believes. “People who eat more non-vegetarian food like chicken and fish are inclined towards carrying out molestation and rape”. According to him, meat leads to a hot temper. How can anyone feel such delusions?

Kumari is not only a misogynist but also seems to be an anti-feminist. A woman in a powerful position who is working for women welfare clearly shows an anti-feminist mindset. Rather than working for women empowerment, she is encouraging predators who commit heinous acts without any fear. In her statement, she told that due to a mother’s irresponsibility, rapes and sexual assault occurs. But she did not even mention a father’s duties. Where does the responsibility of a father go?

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After the criticism, Kumari later clarified that her comments were misunderstood. “My statement has been misinterpreted. What I said was that parents should check whether their children are using mobile phones for studies or other purposes. I never said that if girls use phones they run away with boys,” she told news agency ANI.

Anju Chaudhary, the vice-chairperson of the commission, said that Kumari’s statement was wrong and that taking away cell phones was not a solution to sexual violence. “Instead of saying that we should not give mobile phones to girls, we should be teaching them not to chat with strangers and educate them on the safe use of cellphones,”

In the end, rape is not happening due to cellphone. It is happening because of people like Kumari who is blaming victims, instead of proposing strict punishment for rapists. Such kinds of people should be put behind bars for proclaiming such statements, but no one is getting that, this is happening because of the power hierarchy system. People are using their powers in the wrong way. As a citizen, we should raise our voices and hold people like her accountable.

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