ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Misogyny Stalks Parliament

The only way to make Parliament more progressive is to increase the number of women.

Parliament debated, if that is a word one can use for the type of bizarre talk that went on in the Lok Sabha, the provisions of the new anti-rape legislation that the government introduced and had passed to replace the February ordinance. It is welcome that the bill, formally called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, for the first time addressed the more “routine violence” of stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment, while the punishment for graver crimes like acid attacks as well as gang-rapes has been increased. The definition of rape itself has been broadened and provisions put in for ensuring that women find it less daunting to report sexual crimes to the police and get justice from the judiciary.

However, the misogyny on display in Lok Sabha during the course of the debate has been distressing. The brazen expression of the most retrograde and debasing ideas about women, gender relations and sex cannot be ignored as a mere sideshow of the great theatre of democracy. The most atrocious remark came from the convenor of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United), who opposed the criminalising of stalking by saying, “Who amongst us [men] have not followed girls?” and further, “So what, we are all men after all!”. He followed this up with a vote against the bill to oppose the criminalisation of stalking and voyeurism which he felt was too harsh for a “normal practice” of men and warned that this law would make employers wary of hiring women. This is the same gender warrior who has consistently opposed and blocked women’s reservations in Parliament and state legislatures.

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