Despite being in a position of power, female politicians are not immune to verbal abuse. One would think that with political power they would command respect from men, but it appears to be otherwise. In fact, men feel entitled to use vulgar language against them, as it can be easily garbed as politically motivated, rather than being purely misogynistic.

Just yesterday the brother of former Jammu and Kashmir Forest Minister was caught on camera, hurling derogatory remarks at the J&K Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti.  The incident happened at a rally conducted by the ex-minister in support of the accused in the Kathua rape and murder case, demanding a CBI probe.

An FIR has been filed against the ex-minister’s brother. But knowing our judiciary, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he doesn’t face any consequences. The comments have also drawn criticism from both the ruling party and opposition. However, what is concerning is the reaction of those present at the rally.

How come no one found the man’s remarks disgusting? Isn’t our passiveness a reason why men get away with abuse of this extent?

It is not the first time female politicians in India have been subjected to such crass remarks. All one has to do is to scour through social media profiles of these women to realise the extent of the abuse they face. The remarks come from both educated and uneducated men, irrespective of their party affiliation.

I am not saying that male politicians are immune to verbal abuse. What differs is the nature of the language used. Most abuses hurl against women are sexually explicit and full of threats of sexual harm. Rape threats, equating them with prostitutes, suggesting that they grant sexual favours, are so commonplace, they have become a routine part of the daily lives of these women.

If you watch the said video, you can see the crowd being goaded into cheering on the ex-minister’s brother. Not one man hangs his head in shame. Perhaps our acceptance of such abusive behaviour in fact encourages it.

Whether the crowd cheers on or stays mum, both reactions encourage this uncouth behaviour.

Many of these men think that their words won’t incur any consequences or criticism. So it is essential that we condemn and punish those who verbally abuse women, politicians or not. They must know that rape threats or sexually derogatory remarks are punishable offences.

However, the politicisation of hate has led many people to support such men, instead of criticising them. The current polarization of politics has blinded people in a way that they don’t find anything wrong in the use of abusive languages during rallies or on social media. We need to separate our politics from this hatred and commit to ending the abuse. But unfortunately better sense is yet to prevail among our countrymen.

Photo Credit : ohmyindia.com

Also Read : Stop Passing Off Targeted Social Media Abuse as Counter Argument

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

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