Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is trending on Twitter today. While he was speaking at an event about Beti Bachao Beti Padhao in Fatehabad where he said, “Anyone, young and old alike, can understand how this [poor sex ratio] would create a problem in the future…that there will be fewer women and more men,” further adding “So our (minister OP Dhankar) Dhankhar ji said we will have to bring girls from Bihar. Now some people are saying Kashmir has been opened, we can bring girls from Kashmir also. Jokes aside, if (sex) ratio is fine, then there will be balance in society.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Manohar Lal Khattar is under fire for his sexist joke on Kashmiri women.
  • Ironically he made the joke while speaking at a Beti Bachao Beti Padhao event. 
  • Khattar could have easily made his point on gender balance without his silly joke.
  • However, he only represents the mindset of his electorate which wants brides but not daughters.

After scrapping of Article 370, social media is teaming with sexist men cracking jokes about how they can marry Kashimiri women now.

While Khattar said at event that the ratio of girls per 1,000 boys has gone up from 850 to 933, the said report remains controversial, Times of India suggested back in 2017, eight of the 10 districts in Haryana misreported the number of girl child born. One would expect that the leader of a state under intense national scrutiny for its mistreatment of girl child will mind his words. Ideally, Khattar is supposed to lead by example and speak of empowerment and advocate women’s rights in his state, all the while conditioning people to embrace Beti Bachao Beti Badhao more sincerely.

Also Read: You Are An Institution In Yourself: PM To Women BJP MPs

But instead of that Khattar chose to crack a silly joke which wasn’t just sexist, it was very mistimed. After scrapping of Article 370, social media is teaming with sexist men cracking jokes about how they can marry Kashimiri women now. Just a few days ago, BJP MLA Vikram Singh Saini said that men can now marry ‘fair’ Kashmiri girls. Such statements and jokes rob Kashmiri women of their agency, reducing them to cattle or a piece of land which can be ‘got’.

Leaders like Khattar and Saini are a symptom of India’s misogynist mindset, which wants brides but not daughters.

While Khattar was indeed advocating healthy sex ratio, and how it will bring a balance to the society, he could have done so even without cracking a joke that was in bad taste. Are our politicians completely oblivious to the political climate of this country? We have a state amidst an upheaval like it has never seen before, and the country is divided into two on how Article 370 was scrapped. Why would then you want to aggravate the suffering of those in distress? Or is it that these men simply do not care about the repercussions of their statements? That empowerment, women’s rights and agency are just hollow words to them. But we forget that we are the people whom we elect.

Khattar isn’t the only one to crack a sexist joke on Kashmiri women. He isn’t alone responsible for alarming rates of female foeticide and gender discrimination which women face in Haryana and almost all other Indian states. Leaders like Khattar and Saini are a symptom of India’s misogynist mindset, which wants brides but not daughters. Men are still taught that they have ownership of women’s bodies and identity. That any decision in a family needs to be taken keeping in mind to propagate the lineage, whether it is marriage or family planning.

Thus if politicians like Khattar and Saini can make sexist statements so openly, then some part of the onus lies on us as well.

Picture credit: The Print

Also Read: Stop Disrespecting The Agency Of Kashmiri Women

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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