AAP leader Naveen Jaihind’s remarks on Rewari gangrape: Lessons on how not to speak for women’s rights
Jaihind seems to think that government paying compensation is ‘valuing the honour of the victim with money’. There is so much wrong with his view.
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Another leader has joined the long, long list of Indian politicians who make appalling remarks about rape — this time, from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Naveen Jaihind, the Haryana unit chief of AAP, on September 18 offered to pay Rs 20 lakh to BJP leaders who allow themselves “to be raped by 10 people”. Jaihind was targeting the state BJP government for not providing justice to the 19-year-old Rewari gangrape victim, and offering her two lakh rupees as compensation. The victim’s family has returned the compensation.
The AAP Haryana chief was trying to target the BJP government. It went horribly wrong. (Photo: ANI)
This is what Jaihind said: “I offer to pay Rs 20 lakh to BJP politicians if they allow ‘kukarm’ (rape) on themselves by 10 people. Are they valuing someone’s honour at Rs 2 lakh? Women aren’t safe in Haryana. Instead of arresting the accused, the government is valuing the honour of the victim with money, which is condemnable.”
Saying that BJP leaders need to be gang-raped by 10 people in order to be schooled about sexual assault trivialises the tremendous violence of rape, is insensitive and in fact crass in the extreme.
But equally problematic is the assertion that compensation to victims is “the value of their honour”.
No, Mr Jaihind.
Providing compensation and justice to victims are not mutually exclusive — both are the duty of the government.
While the decision of the Rewari survivor's family to return the compensation should be respected, if a survivor does accept compensation, it, in no way, weakens her claim to justice.
Rape is a breakdown of law and order, a total failure of the authorities at keeping a citizen safe. Someone on whom such a crime is perpetrated is entitled to reparations from the government.
Also, a rape survivor needs money for medical help, and the legal battle that needs to be fought, and the state should be paying these expenses.
When a government gives compensation to a rape survivor, it is doing its bare minimum duty. It is not paying a price for the victim’s “honour”.
Naveen Jaihind, ironically, whose wife Swati Maliwal is the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women and a vocal fighter for women’s rights, is supposed to know this.
When politicians trying to speak in favour of the victim end up making such remarks, we can see why women in this country are not safe.
Another troublesome part in Jaihind’s statement is the equating of rape with “honour”.
Rape is a violent, horrific attack on a woman (or a child or a man). It has a lot to do with power. With lawlessness. With impunity.
It has nothing to do with “honour”.
It is the perpetrators who in fact lose their honour, who should be ashamed and shamed. Not the woman who was raped.
Rape does not take away a woman's 'honour'. The shame is the perpetrator's. Not the survivor's. (Photo: PTI/file)
AAP, supposedly the party of change, has so far been unable to see much wrong with Jaihind’s remarks.
Party chief Arvind Kejriwal is actually yet to react.
Senior AAP leader Atishi has said of the statement: “What he highlighted is valid, but yes, the way he worded it is wrong.”
If “what he highlighted” was that the accused in the case are yet to be arrested, this is possibly the worst way to do it. Also, no one seems to have explained to Jaihind that the “way he worded it was wrong”.
Possibly that's why he came up with this defence: “It [the statement] was for those male BJP leaders who think that the value of woman’s honour is just Rs 2 lakh.”
Maybe it is time Jaihind stops talking.
Before he tries to milk political mileage over a horrific issue, maybe he should educate himself about the trauma of sexual assault and the need for both sensitivity and compensation. Perhaps Swati Maliwal could help him here.