Why politicians love to moral police women and happily spare men

By: Maitreyee Boruah
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After all, majority of the Indian politicians are men. And, like most men in our country--the quintessential upholder of tradition and culture-Khadi-clad leaders often end up imposing bizarre rules and regulations on the female population. 

Misogyny runs deep in our political system, which is well-articulated in their stiff opposition to 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament.

Why politicians love to moral police women and happily spare men.
Girls, stay away from fashion

The latest to join the pantheon of sexist politicians is Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala.

On the concluding day of the five-day-long Indian Science Congress in Mysuru recently, Vala asked girl students to get rid of fashion while going to colleges. His argument is based on the premise that female students don't attend colleges to take part in any beauty competition. Thus there is no need of doing eyebrows or wearing lipsticks.

"You (girls) come to college for studies and not to participate in any beauty competition. You (girls) don't need to get your eyebrows done, apply lipstick or trim your hair..." he said.

The Governor's eyebrow and lipstick comment definitely raised several eyebrows, especially that of women's rights activists.

Strongly condemning Vala's remarks, Ranjitha, a women's rights activist from Bengaluru said, "First, it does not suit the stature of a Governor to comment on how women should dress or not. What has fashion got to do with one's academic excellence? I feel sorry that the head of the state made such sexist comments at the prestigious Science Congress."

When it came to the boys, Vala let them go off with a mild warning. "I advise male students here that they have to get rid of (wrong) habits. For ladies I advise that they have to get rid of fashion."

"I would have really appreciated if the Governor would have elaborated on wrong habits common among male students. He was very specific while warning female students not to wear lipsticks and do their eyebrows," said Soma PR, an aspiring filmmaker.

Why politicians love to moral police women and happily spare men.
"Boys will be boys"

While opposing capital punishment for rape, former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2014 made his infamous comment on rape. "Boys will be boys... they commit mistakes."

His shameful comment clearly indicates the deep-rooted patriarchy in our society.
"First girls develop friendship with boys. Then when differences occur, they level rape charges. Boys commit mistakes. Will they be hanged for rape," said the Samajwadi Party supremo.

The seasoned politician did not think twice before accusing the victims for being raped. Once again, the culprits were given a clean-chit in the kangaroo court of a politician.

Hindu women as reproductive machines

Last year, we heard several BJP leaders asking Hindu women to turn into reproductive machines to save the religion.

BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj said every Hindu woman must produce at least four children to "protect" the religion. The number game did not stop there. His party colleague Shyamal Goswami raised this number to five and Shankaracharya of Badrikashram, Shri Vasudevanand Saraswati, urged Hindu women to have 10 children each.

Dented and painted women

Congress MP and President Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit Mukherjee created a controversy with his sexist remark on protests over the 2012 Delhi gangrape case.

In his startling comment, Abhijit Mukherjee said, "I would term the protests in Delhi as what is popularly known as Pink Revolution. It is becoming fashionable to land up on the streets with candles in hand."

"Such people are completely disconnected from reality. They go to discotheques. I am very well-versed with student activism and I can bet on it that most of the protesters are not students. They are dented and painted women chasing two minutes of fame, giving interviews on TV. The protesters do not fall in the age group of students," he added.

We wonder, why again women protestors were targeted? What about their male partners, who were in equal numbers on the roads in the winters of 2012?

Till the time people in position and authority don't end moral policing women, the whole idea of women empowerment remains a myth.

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