The latest words of wisdom from an Indian politician offering a misogynist solution for the country’s social problems have hit the headlines while the recent controversy over similar absurdist ideas from the nation’s political class has yet to die down.
In a televised speech in Muzzafarnagar, in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Rajpal Singh Saini, a former state minister, declared that women and children did not need mobile phones.
“Mobile phones only serve to distract them and have no utility for them. Besides, why do women need mobile phones? Our mothers, sisters and wives did not have mobile phones but they did not die because of it. If they could survive without mobile phones, why can’t women now?” Saini was quoted as saying by the Deccan Chronicle.
Ironically, Saini is a Rajya Sabha member from the BSP whose president is Mayawati, a woman presumably using mobile phone.
Saini’s comments followed the Oct. 10 remarks made by former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala who said child marriage should be legalized to end the surge in sexual crimes reported from across the state in recent weeks.
Chautala’s fellow state politician and Haryana Congress spokesperson Dharamveer Goyal claimed that 90 percent of rapes were consensual, drawing heavy criticism from women rights activists.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — a self-made woman leader who overpowered decades-long hold of the Communists over the state’s electorate — followed up with a comment, saying rape cases were on the rise in the country because men and women interacted with each other more freely.
"Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It's like an open market with open options," Banerjee said Oct. 15.
Jitender Chhattar, a member of the system of social administrative apparatus in Haryana’s Jind district, also expressed support for lowering the age of marriage while offering his own justification for doing so.
“Obscenity in the movies and lack of culture are the two main reasons responsible for such incidents. Another important reason is fast food such as chowmein and so on. They have an impact on the body,” Chhattar was quoted as saying by the First Post.
“When we eat fast food, heat is produced in the body and this leads to faster production of sex hormones. There is no doubt about this. We should therefore consume cold things. And we should adopt Indian culture,” he said.
“In earlier times, hormones became active at a later age. Now due to our diets and so on, hormones are becoming active sooner. That is reason why khaps said that when girls are 15-16, they should be married. This will prevent rapes to a large extent. After marriage, she can continue her studies. There is no pressure on her to give up career or studies.”