Another day, another disgusting MLA.
After Maharashtra BJP MLA Ram Kadam recently offered to “abduct women” for his constituents, we now have a legislator from Kerala outstripping him in crassness.
No one has doubt that the nun is a prostitute. 12 times she enjoyed it and the 13th time it is rape? Why didn't she complain the first time?: PC George, Kerala MLA (Independent) on the nun who levelled rape allegations against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulackal. pic.twitter.com/Br2sxyhVgX— ANI (@ANI) September 8, 2018
PC George, an Independent MLA from Poonjar, told the media on September 8 that a nun, who has accused a Bishop of raping her repeatedly, is a “prostitute”, and that she “enjoyed it for 12 times” and hence, cannot cry rape “the 13th time”.
Everything about George’s statement is reprehensible.
But the fact that the Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan — or indeed, any major political leader from Kerala — has not yet found it necessary to condemn George is truly appalling.
The National Commission of Women has criticised him, but the body has power to do little more, and of course, their words have not affected George at all, who has responded with "Will they now chop my nose off?"
George’s statement is a deliberate attempt to intimidate and silence the nun, who is anyway fighting an uphill battle against the powerful Church.
Also, even if she had had consensual sex with someone 12 times — she has said she was sexually abused for two years — it would indeed be rape if she did not want it the 13th time.
Sleeping with a woman once, twice, or any number of times does not grant a man perpetual rights to her body. Any woman, whether she is the man’s wife, girlfriend, and yes, even a “prostitute”, has the right to say no any time — and if the man forces her, it is rape.
These things should be obvious. But the fact that George made the statement, and that no one in power has condemned him, shows the acceptability such ideas still enjoy.
If they cannot condemn and chastise such an MLA, Vijayan and the others do not deserve to be in the offices they hold.
Pushing the survivor into silence
The rape case has been going on since June, when the nun first complained against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese, accusing him of raping her 13 times since 2014.
Nuns protest in Kochi on September 8 at the lack of action against the accused Bishop. (Photo: PTI)
The nun has claimed that ever since she lodged the case, she has been under pressure from the Church as well as the police — while the Bishop is yet to be arrested.
In July, a purported conversation between the nun’s friend and another priest was leaked, in which he promised her “land and safety” if she withdrew her complaint. The nun has also claimed that she was threatened that her confessions made in the Church would be made public if she did not back down. So far, the brave survivor has stuck to her stand.
On September 9, for the first time, she was supposed to hold a press conference to narrate her side of the story. However, after George’s remarks which redefine 'shameless', she cancelled the press meet.
Her companions said she cried for hours.
This is how Indian society hurts, tortures and silences victims, so vile men never have to reap the fruits of their actions.
What locus standi did George have to speak on the issue at all?
He is not connected to the probe in any way. But men like George use their position and clout to perpetrate rape culture, where the shame is all the victim’s, and the men who reportedly attack them can strut about, safe in the knowledge of their impunity.
In 2017, when a Malayalam actor was abducted and sexually harassed in a car for hours, allegedly at the behest of actor Dileep, George had revealed her identity, and said she was lying about the assault, “because she went to work the next day”.
A seven-time MLA, PC George is a popular man. (Photo: PTI/file)
The Kerala Women's Commission sent him a notice, after which he allegedly threatened the commission’s chief and sent her packets of human excreta.
In the Suryanelli minor's rape case, in which Congress leader PJ Kurien was named — he was later acquitted — George had jumped to his defence, saying the survivor could not be trusted because she “didn’t know how many people she had slept with”.
And yet, the legislator is a popular man.
A seven-time MLA, George was with the Congress for a long time, but was expelled in 2015 due to infighting. He fought the next election as an Independent and won again.
Every time a woman is shamed publicly for reporting a sexual crime, we ensure fewer women have the courage to speak out.
Every time a man like George gets away with such comments, we ensure more men are granted such immunity.
Indeed, George’s popularity is probably because he presents himself as a man willing to play "devil’s advocate". For a lot of people, the first instinct when they hear of sexual assault is to doubt the victim, question her “character”. No wonder they love it when a man in power verbalises their thoughts.
But it’s time this stops. It is time such people are brought to book. Indeed, George’s case is the perfect opportunity for Pinarayi Vijayan to act against him, make an example out of him, so other men, too, get the message.
Will the CM rise to the moment?