Menaka Gandhi, our very own Union cabinet minister for Women & Child development is known to have said a lot of crazy stuff before. She had once justified ‘marital rapes’ saying nothing of that sort exists. If you are married, you can’t be raped by your husband. It is automatic consensual.
Years later when my kids will google ‘Menaka Gandhi quotes’, this is what they’ll find:
Marital Rape cannot be criminalised in India
In the recent NDTV debate, we see a college student asking Menaka Gandhi a few questions for which she gives baffling answers.
Student: The question is that the well-educated authorities of the university have formulated the rules which are themselves gender-biased for example, ‘Non-veg to be not served in girls hostels and…”
“I’m quite happy with that, actually.” Mrs Gandhi smirks while interrupting the girl. “I am what is called as a proselytising vegetarian.” She concludes as if that makes it all justified. Proselytising vegetarian are people who strongly profess their vegetarianism, to the point of converting the other person. This is, in fact, a common point that we hear from the self-proclaimed professors of vegetarianism that, “eating non-veg makes one hot-headed, wild, hungry for blood..” I remember a conversation with a colleague who said, “Muslims are violent because they eat non-veg..you know..when you see so much blood regularly..” I had replied awkwardly, “Umm..you think butcher shops have blood rivers? By the way, women and doctors see blood regularly too…”
The girl bravely continues with her question, “The girls are not allowed to go to the library post 6 citing security issues and saying they are ‘immature’. I don’t see the connection between security issues and immaturity. Whereas talking about the security of the girls, are boys totally secured, how can they move out of the college after 6 PM? So..what are your viewpoints?”
This was a well-rounded question. It only meant to know about the discrimination between hostel curfew timings for girls and boys. It is something that girls across campuses in India have felt. Whether it is VIT University or Ashoka University or a local college, these things are quite common. But look at how carelessly Menaka Gandhi replies:
“As a parent if you are sending your daughter to a college… or a son.. you wish them to be protected. And perhaps one of the protection is against themselves. You know, when you are 16 or 17, you are also hormonally challenged, to protect you from your own hormonal outbursts, perhaps a certain lakshman rekha is drawn. It can be 6 or 7, depending from college to college. It is for your safety point. It is not just against rapists. It could also be against traffic accidents.”
Hear her out. So, children of 16-17 age have the hormonal imbalance and could meet with accidents if let out free. In just one year, they are going to be able to vote, get married (girls), take a driver’s license but they can’t even cross the roads yet.
“If you choose to live on a campus, then there are “disciplines” that every campus follows. And it’s not just in India, beta” she adds the word beta and says whatever bullshit.
The host intervenes and separately asks a question saying, “Why is it different for boys and girls, though?” Which is one of the things we want to understand from her? What makes it okay for guys to stay out until 9 while the girls need to be grounded by 6? So then she redeems herself by saying,
“Same timings should be there for boys and girls. Because they are both there and as a lakshman rekha for you, to keep you safe inside, that’s all.”
Ever heard that the spring pops out as much as you suppress it? The self-described animal rights activist Menaka Gandhi seems to have lesser empathy for girls/young adults. What is this lakshman rekha that we are talking about here? Preventing girls from using the library? As if we don’t know, all of this is to prevent interaction of boys and girls, and perhaps kissing, and then perhaps sex. The Indian law, by the way, permits consensual sex post 16 years of age. But keeping that aside, these rules are absolutely regressive against girls. There are colleges, which put restrictions on girls and boys even talking! What are you, jails?
In the end, the poor college student asks, “Also ma’am, this problem could be solved by improving the security. And you know caging them inside the hostel.”
Mrs. Gandhi for some odd reason utters this,
“No beta, it can’t be solved by putting two Bihari gentlemen on the gates with a danda (stick).”
Slow caps, ma’am.
So taking these points back home: Because she/one is a strong vegetarian, it is okay to restrict non-veg (especially for girls), 16-17-year-olds have hormonal imbalances, need to be protected hence they can’t cross the roads (or should not be sneaking, having sex in the libraries or the bushes). Bihari gentlemen are (generally) watchmen and that they are (generally) not useful to solve security issues. Lakshman Rekha needs to be drawn in every single college. However, she didn’t mention if white chalk is fine or permanent marker is needed.