Karnataka's Home Minister, G. Parameshwara, put his foot (size unknown) in his mouth with his comment that "these kind of things do happen" [sic] in response to the mass molestation that shamed Bengaluru's citizens on New Year's Eve. He also blamed young people for "copying the West".
After shocking incidents on the city's popular MG Road came to light, there has been an uproar across mainstream and social media demanding an apology and his sacking. But, chances are, the Minister will say that he was misquoted – the default response whenever someone in the public eye blurts or tweets something he cannot easily disown.
But G. Parameshwara is not alone: he joins a long list of politicians and celebrities whose gaffes have stunned India frequently. Here are 10 of the worst quotes that came in response to rapes or molestations of women in recent times:
- KJ George, Former Karnataka Home Minister: "How can you call it a gangrape? A gangrape is when four-five people are involved."
- Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP: "Women wearing lipstick and powder are the same as J&K terrorists."
- Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister: "Rape cases are on the rise in the country because men and women interact with each other more freely now."
- Dharamvir Goyat, Haryana Congress Committee Member: "90 percent rape cases are consensual."
- Tapas Paul, Trinamool Congress: "If anyone from opposition or their wives and sisters are here, then listen up, if any one of your people touch anyone from TMC I will destroy you, I will not spare them. I will send my boys and they will rape people."
- Abhijit Mukherjee, Indian National Congress (and son of President Pranab Mukherjee): "These pretty women, dented and painted, who come for protests are not students. I have seen them speak on television; usually women of this age are not students."
- Abu Azmi, Samajwadi Party: "If a woman is caught (in a rape case), then both she and the boy should be punished. In India, there is death penalty for rape, but when there's consensual sex outside marriage, there's no death penalty against women."
- Ghulam Nabi Azad, Indian National Congress: "In olden days people had no other entertainment but sex, which is why they produced so many children. Today, TV is the biggest source of entertainment. Hence, it is important that there is electricity in every village so that people watch TV till late in the night. By the time the serials are over, they'll be too tired to have sex and will fall asleep. Then they won't get a chance to reproduce. When there is no electricity, there is nothing else to do but produce babies."
- Botsa Satyanarayana, Indian National Congress: "Just because India achieved freedom at midnight does not mean that women can venture out after dark."
- Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party: "First girls develop friendship with boys. Then when differences occur, they level rape charges. Boys commit mistakes. Will they be hanged for rape?"
In fact, Abu Azmi has done it again: he told TV reporters today that "It was bound to happen. Woman call nudity fashion. They were wearing short dresses."
Frankly, we don't know whether we should laugh or cry at these insensitive men (and a woman) whose political differences disappear when they comment on crimes against women. But one thing is sure: they aren't going away. Nor are they getting away in this day of instant responses on social media.