While the government wants people to embrace beti bachao, an MLA in Maharashtra believes in “beti bhagao”. A video of the Ghatkopar MLA Ram Kadam has surfaced where he is seen promising men to abduct any girl they like. One can clearly see him sharing his phone number with a gathering of men, at a dahi handi festival and saying that they can call him to seek help anytime.

The MLA says that if any of them has proposed to a girl but she has said “no”, he would speak with the man’s parents. If they also approve of the marriage, he would kidnap the girl for them. While Mister Kadam says his comments have been distorted, it is chilling to watch an elected representative talk so casually about abducting women for men.

What does this MLA think girls to be? Goats and sheep (can’t use the animal whose name begins with C these days so frivolously) for him to herd into barns?

Kadam is an elected representative. His words reflect society’s mindset 

It is not just insensitive, but misogynist of this MLA to show such lack of respect towards women. He has trivialised the issue of consent and made abduction of girls by loafers and uncouth men glamorous and righteous. Do women not even get to say a yes in the world Kadam inhabits? Do they even have a voice, or are all men deaf, to be able to listen to women’s wishes in matters of love.

SOME TAKEAWAYS-

  • Ghatkopar MLA Ram Kadam was caught on camera promising a gathering of men to abduct any girl they like, if their parents also approve of her.
  • Perhaps the MLA still lives in a world where the word consent is yet to find its way into dictionaries.
  • It is common citizens who elected him as a leader. His words mirror our society’s mindset. And how most people still think of women as objects who don’t deserve an opinion in any matter. Not even their marriage.

But this isn’t just a case of an MLA developing God complex. He is a leader elected by the common people

Hence, his mindset is reflects that of the society which put him on this pedestal. His toxic mentality starkly mirrors how little our society cares about women’s consent and individuality. She is someone’s daughter, who can be abducted and made someone’s wife or daughter-in-law. Like a wallet full of cash, she is swindled from one man to the pockets of another, with no one giving two hoots about what she wants.

Just look at the people around this MLA. No one finds his words objectionable. No one dares to question what kind of message he is sending to our youth. Such men are the reason why gender equality is a distant dream in our country. But how do we sensitise young men in our country to respect a woman’s NO, when their elected leaders teach them to do otherwise? How do we teach them to value consent when they know what they want is just one call away, without all the “drama”?

The party he is affiliated to needs to take strong action against the said MLA. It needs to make it clear that it won’t tolerate such objectification of women

Because such stunts do leave an impression on aggressive male minds, which are already running on fuel of entitlement. There will be at least a few ruffians who will take his words seriously, hence putting the well-being of women who they are after at risk. It could also set up a dangerous precedent where girls are abducted and married off without the slightest of idea about how their life is about to change in a few minutes. All they are doing is declining proposals from men they do not approve of as partners. And their well-being is everyone’s responsibility. The government, the authorities, us and every human being in this society.

Electing good leaders and making sure they stick to good conduct isn’t enough. What we need is to implant some spine and a good upbringing in our young men. So that they know right from wrong. So that when they hear someone trivialise gender issues and consent like this, they can stand up against them.

Also Read: We Need Purush Ayog, But To Fight Patriarchy, Not Wives

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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