This appeared In Asian Age....
What’s the difference between betting and rape? Let’s ask the CBI Chief…
Ranjit Sinha ki toh hadd ho gayee! The CBI Chief ( no less!), has left India speechless with his crude, crass and callous comment earlier this week. While talking about legalizing betting in sports, he jauntily added his own perspective : “If you can’t prevent rape, enjoy it!” While the country was reeling from the atrociousness of this remark, especially since two important cases will soon be in the news – the Aarushi murder and the Nirbhaya rape - it made one question the CBI Chief’s right to retain his job While sacking the man is the prerogative of the right authorities, getting an apology out of him is a poor substitute. We can bay for his blood and express our collective outrage across platforms, but that will still not compensate for the damage done. For a man in his position and at his age to make a joke out of something as serious as rape, displays a lack of education, not just an absence of basic decency. No educated person would dare articulate such an odious comment if there was a good education and the right upbringing behind him. And by education, I am not referring to a string of degrees from the best colleges in India and / or abroad. An educated person is one who follows a modicum of civility at all times. An educated person would never make the grave error of trivialising something as terrible as rape. Especially not in a country that is reeling under what has been graphically described as a ‘rape epidemic’ this year, by the world press.
Most thinking people feel it ought to be made virtually impossible for Ranjit Sinha to crawl out of this mess without paying the price for his abject insensitivity.As an after thought, he has described the nasty sentence as a “proverb”. Which book of proverbs is he referring to? The scary part is how casually other men have reacted to his gross remark. I was at a seminar the day this disgusting story broke. And an elderly man got up to state he found such topics ‘superfluous’. Nobody protested! The few women present tried to shut him up. But the other guys shrugged indifferently and even patted the man on his back, as if to say, “It’s really quite okay… don’t let these angry women browbeat you.” That is precisely why I believe Ranjit Sinha will get away with the loathsome comment, after a token ticking off. The rest of India will also move on, in search of other nauseating individuals uttering outrageously offensive sexist comments in public.
If you ask me, Sinha himself must be perplexed and wondering what is so terrible about his ‘joke’. For decades men have been saying the same thing - “ The only thing for a woman to do during a rape is to lie back and enjoy it.” Generally, if this is dropped in mixed company, other men laugh uproariously before correcting themselves and looking sheepish. But that only happens when women glare and express their rage / contempt . I have been present when foolish women have joined in the laughter, and further encouraged the chaps to go still further and crack some more ‘jokes’.Even though it is inconceivable to me that a man would be foolish enough to say what Ranjit Sinha just did. We live in aware and sensitized times. Incidents of brutal rapes taking place across India have dominated media space throughout 2013. Is Ranjit Sinha living in a bubble? Does he not read news reports? Or watch television shows? Is he unaware of the widespread international and national coverage generated by the ghastly Nirbhaya case? If so, he has no business being in his job for one more second.Apology be damned.
But you know what ? Tragically, Ranjit Sinha is not alone. Whenever the subject of rape comes up these days, I can spot several men who turn away in boredom, as if to convey their indifference to the issue. There is a sense of ‘rape fatigue’ hanging over us that one can’t escape. Perhaps men really and truly don’t get it! I have also come across guys who have rolled their eyes, plugged their ears and declared, “ Please! Bas! Can we change the subject? Don’t you women have something better to talk about?”
Errrr…. excuse me, Sir! But we really DON’T! So before you turn away and start discussing mighty global issues, do remember rape is a serious crime. Yes, even in India! Even if it does take place on a sickeningly regular basis. Don’t you dare make fun of rape, or convert it into a ‘boys only’ joke. That is seriously uncool. And it makes the lot of you look like illiterate boors. Ranjit Sinha falls into that category. As the top dog in the CBI, his job is to protect the women of this country. Not denigrate them in public. He needs to go back to school. Perhaps, even to a reform school. He could do with an orientation course. Let’s say a crash course in how not to hurt the sentiments of all those who recognize rape for what it is – a heinous crime against humanity. Not just against women.