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HT EDIT-Demeaning women is an assault on our politics This utter lack of respect proves that men can’t accept women politicians as equals

April 16, 2019 06:11 AM


Demeaning women is an assault on our politics
This utter lack of respect proves that men can’t accept women politicians as equals
Women in Indian politics face a double disadvantage. The first is the difficulty in getting a foot in through the door in a male-dominated arena. Women account for only 12.15% of the outgoing 16th Lok Sabha. The second is facing sexist remarks from male colleagues. The latest to face this is Jaya Prada, formerly of the Samajwadi Party and now a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan in an attempt to highlight her new affiliation, referred to her innerwear being khaki, the colour of the RSS uniform.

This is the kind of raw deal that women of calibre, regardless of their political affiliation, are offered in Indian politics. Smriti Irani, despite her achievements, has often been dismissed as a mere television actress. Sharad Yadav felt it was important to discuss former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s weight. From being described as akin to a sex worker to her gender being questioned, four-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mayawati, has been at the receiving end of a staggering amount of vitriol. Politics needs a quantum increase in women to be genuinely representative. But the viciousness faced by women politicians is bound to deter other women who might want to consider politics as a career.

Politics need not have so much to do with gender. A person’s ability to take up a relevant issue and being able to work for the well being of constituents should be the only criteria. This lack of respect towards women demonstrates that many male politicians are simply unable to accept women as their equals. When people speak of how India has a woman defence minister and foreign minister, they seem to forget that these women have got there through sheer merit. To demean women politicians on issues that are irrelevant to the political discourse is repugnant. It is as much an assault on women as it is on our politics

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