Many Indian women politicians have raised voice against Azam Khan’s repulsive and misogynist remarks Jaya Prada. No one would have thought that these women will keep aside political differences and take a stand against sexism in politics, when elections were practically on their head. However, contrary to expectations, these remarks have infuriated women leaders and it is not hard to understand why. Prada isn’t the first woman to endure such crass remarks, made from a political and public platform. These women know that if they do not stand up for each other, nobody else will.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Many Indian women politicians have raised voice against Azam Khan’s misogynist remarks Jaya Prada.
  • These women know that if they do not stand up for each other, nobody else will.
  • But, it is easier to lash out at an Azam Khan when he doesn’t belong to your own party.
  • These women must also criticise sexist remarks coming from fellow party politicians.

Prada isn’t the first woman to endure such crass remarks, made from a political and public platform.

Reactions from women politicians

Minister Of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj minced no words in criticising Khan’s statement.

INC National spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi also took to social media to express her anger in writing, “The comment made on Jaya Prada by Azam Khan is absolutely unbecoming and this kind of filth in discourse needs to be condemned by all.”

BJP MP Hema Malini said, “Nobody should speak like this about any woman, I am not saying this just because I am a woman politician. Goes to show what kind of a mentality the man has to use vulgar language.”

Union Cabinet Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani on the other hand asked why other party leaders were sitting in silence as Khan made his remarks. She said, “Derogatory comments were being made on a woman and SP leaders were sitting silently. I urge them that politics has its own place and respect for women in India has its own.”

Sexism is not a single party’s problem in India

There is no escaping sexism and misogyny in Indian politics. Political leaders are notorious for indulging in sexist diatribes openly during rallies and no party is an exception here. While Azam Khan crossed the line of dignified conduct here, and if he or others like him get away with it, the attack on dignity of women politician will only get nastier.

There is no escaping sexism and misogyny in Indian politics.

Women often become target for misogynist remarks from politicians because they are well versed with the stigma around a woman’s dignity in our country. They know it’ll be hurtful and demeaning to say certain thing about a woman. But as we can see in case of Azam, they also know that the audience will applaud at their remarks. If you watch the Azam Kha rally video you’ll hear the distinct sound of claps and hoots meant to encourage and applaud him for what he was saying.

When people know what will earn them support or appreciation of others, it becomes hard for them to not use that as a weapon to gain media and public attention. Courtesy, chivalry, decency all these words lose meaning and relevance, when it is a Lok Sabha seat on the line. However, habitual offenders do not need such big incentives to let their foul mentality loose. All they need is a mic and some eager ears. Such misdemeanours will only remain under check when these people suffer political and public backlash. Their own parties must take action against them for outraging women’s modesty.

It is easier to lash out at an Azam Khan when he doesn’t belong to your own party or doesn’t occupy a position equal or above you.

Which is why women politicians need to present a strong united front against sexism and the place to start would be their own parties. It is easier to lash out at an Azam Khan when he doesn’t belong to your own party or doesn’t occupy a position equal or above you. Criticising fellow party politicians for their remarks is the difficult choice these women need to make. They should try and put pressure on the party supremos to make such people face the music.

By extending sympathy towards Prada these women have put women in politics on a path which could lead them to forming a united front against sexism. They could choose to unconditionally support other women in the field, even if it is against leaders from their own party. It would be not be an easy stance to keep, but if women politicians really want to battle sexism in their field, then now is the time to start acting.

Picture Credit: The Hindu/ ibandhu.com/STP

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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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