A senior Congress leader and former Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly KR Ramesh Kumar stoked controversy on Thursday after he said that when rape is unavoidable, one should enjoy it. The off-hand and sexist comment came during a discussion about farm laws in the Karnataka Assembly when some MLAs demanded time from the speaker to discuss farmers' issues.
"There is a saying that when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it. That is exactly the position which you are in," Kumar said amid laughs from others present in the Assembly.
The comment drew the ire of many including parties like the BJP. BJP leader S Prakash called the comment "obnoxious" and "disgraceful". Amid calls for action against the Congress leader, Kumar on Friday took to Twitter to apologise.
"I would like to express my sincere apologies to everyone for the indifferent and negligent comment I made in today’s assembly about “Rape!” My intention was not trivialise or make light of the heinous crime, but an off the cuff remark! I will choose my words carefully henceforth," Kumar said.
However, this is not the first time that Kumar or other politicians in India have stirred controversy due to their sexist comments about rape. From victim shaming to defending rapists and dismissing sexual violence, Indian politicians from across parties have been guilty of misogyny.
Here are ten of the most shocking statements made by politicians and people in power regarding rape.
"I feel like a rape victim"
While many found Kumar's comments disturbing, this is not the leader's first offence when it comes to making flippant comments about rape. In 2019, KR Ramesh Kumar had referred to himself as a "rape victim". Kumar, who was then the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, had said he felt like a rape victim because he was repeatedly subjected to questions regarding some audiotapes released by former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.
"Dented and painted"
After the 2012 gang rape in Delhi, former President of India and Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee's son drew shock and anger after he referred to women protesting against the rape as "dented and painted". "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."
"Boys will be boys"
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh had tried to defend three men convicted for gangraping a woman in 2014 by claiming that "boys will be boys, they make mistakes". That was not all. the SP leader also accused women of framing rape charges against men when they had disagreements with them.
"Rape sometimes right, sometimes wrong"
Mulayam Singh was not the only one to make e objectionable comments in the wake of the 2014 Badaun rape case. Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister also joined the slew of commentators and said that rape was not always wrong. “It (rape) is a social crime which depends on the man and the woman. It is sometimes right and sometimes wrong," Gaur had said.
"Modern women more vulnerable to rape"
Former Andhra Pradesh Police Chief Dinesh Reddy had said in 2011 that "modern women" were more vulnerable to rape. "Now, wealth has increased, corporate styles have seeped into the villages bringing in liquor and other cosmopolitan cultures...These modern women are more vulnerable to rapes," Reddy had said. He also said that eating certain foods made people "naughty" and that rapes were not under the control of police. He had also claimed that villagers from coastal Andhra are wearing salwar-kameez. "All these things provoke, (rape)" he had said.
"Rape by two men, not gang rape"
Congress leader and former Karnataka Home Minister KJ George in 2015 faced flak after he said that two men raping a woman was not gang rape. The comments came after the gang rape of a 22-year-old BPO employee in Bengaluru who was raped by a driver and a helper of the tempo she was travelling home in. "How can you say gangrape? Gangrape means four-five people," George had said in response to questions about the law and order situation.
"Rape on the rise, population also on the rise"
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is known for being a proponent of women's rights and representation with women making up one of her largest vote banks. However, back in her first term as CM, the TMC chief was known to make more than one sexist comment. In 2013, upon being asked questions regarding the rising case of rape in West Bengal, Banerjee had said "You say rape incidents are on the rise. But the population is also swelling. Is the population in the state the same as it was during the tenure of (the state's second chief minister) BC Roy?" she said. She had also blamed increasing shopping malls and free interaction between boys and girls were behind rising rapes.
"Congress is trying to rape me"
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra of the BJP had reacted to the Muysuru gang-rape case earlier in the year by stating that "the place was deserted" and that that the victim and her male friend should not have ventured there at night. The incident had occurred at 7.30 in the evening. The comments did not just end at victim shaming. Jnanendra further said that "Rape has happened here. But the Congress is trying to rape me, they are trying to rape the Home Minister".
"90 per cent rapes consensual"
In 2012, under fire for spiralling rape cases in Haryana, Congress leader Dharambir Goyat told reporters in Hisar last night that "90 per cent of rape cases are (a case of) consensual sex between the girl and boy." The leader had been asked about increasing rape cases in the state that year for which the state government has been facing criticism from opposition parties.
"Punish women for rape"
SP leader Abu Azmi had made the outrageous demand to arrest women along with men who were caught in a rape case, attracting widespread criticism against victim shaming. In 2014, Azmi had said, "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."