Kerala Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran found himself at the centre of a major controversy after he made a grossly sexist remark at rape survivors during a protest meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday (November 1).
In a bid to criticise the LDF government for allegedly depending on a woman with loose morals to play politics, Ramachandran ended up remarking “any raped woman with self-respect will either die or prevent being raped again.”
He, however, tendered an apology after the remark snowballed into a huge controversy.
One of the prime accused in the solar scandal, in a letter to the then city police commissioner last year, had alleged corruption and sexual assault by several Congress and UDF leaders, including former chief minister Oomen Chandy. Based on her complaint, the crime branch of the Kerala police had filed an FIR against three Congress legislators from the state – Hibi Eden, Adoor Prakash and AP Anil Kumar.
The woman recently accused another Congress leader of rape.
Speaking about the charge at the protest meeting, Ramachandran said it was a ploy by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to use a “prostitute” to corner the Congress.
“Every day when she wakes up, she claims she was raped. A woman who says she was raped across the state, she’s dressed and made to stand behind the curtain. She keeps asking when she should come out. Chief Minister, your game will not work here. This blackmail politics will not work here.
“As you (the chief minister) drown and die, if you thought you can bring a prostitute and make her cook stories, Kerala is tired of hearing it…we can understand if a woman says she was raped once. Any woman with self-respect will either die or prevent being raped again. But, she keeps crying again and again all over the state,” he said.
Among the many who called out Ramachandran’s sexist remarks was state women and child development minister KK Shailaja, who herself has been a victim of his misogyny. The Congress leader in June had exclaimed that Shailaja was fighting for the title of ‘Covid rani’ and ‘Nipah Rajkumari’.
Slamming Ramachandran, Shailaja said his remarks reflected his low opinion of women.
“He says if women who are raped have self-respect, they will kill themselves. Is rape a woman’s fault? Are women not committing suicide because they lack self-respect? A woman subject to rape is not a criminal. The people committing the rape are the criminals. They must be punished. Women experience great physical and mental trauma. To say that they must kill themselves speaks of a person with a dangerous mind. This is completely wrong,” Indian Express quoted her as saying.
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat also condemned the comment asking the Congress leader to apologise.