Bihar DM Makes Sexist Comment During a Clean India Drive

Kanwal Tanuj

“Sell your wife,” told Kanwal Tanuj, the District Magistrate of Aurangabad to a poor villager who said that he is too poor to build a toilet at his home, reported NDTV.

The DM made this comment during a public meeting to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swacch Bharat” (Clean India) campaign on Sunday.

Open defecation is one of the pressing issues that rural India and urban slums are dealing with. Speaking on the issue, the officer adjoined the need for having toilets in homes with the dignity of women. He did not stop there and went ahead with putting a price tag on women.

“It costs 12,000 to build a toilet. Raise your hands and tell me… whose wife is worth less than 12,000?” said Kanwal.

After saying this, a voice came from the public from a villager who said that he doesn’t have the required amount to build a toilet. To which Kanwal replied in an irritated tone, “I will talk to you. If that is the case, then sell your wife. If that is your mentality then go and auction the dignity of your home.”

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He did not only make the dismal comment by comparing toilets with the dignity of women, he also made fun of the financial status of the poor villagers. He presumed and said that people took the advance money under a government scheme for toilets and used it up elsewhere.

It was under the “Shauchalay Nirman Ghar ka Samman” scheme, launched by Bihar’s CM Nitish Kumar last year which granted an aid of Rs 12,000 to people who want to build toilets.

The comments by Kanwal have attracted quite a lot of media attention. While the party workers defend the DM saying that his words should not be highlighted because his cause was good, others have been starkly criticizing the government official.

Such comparison lays bare the dark truth that patriarchy is deeply ingrained in our minds. It is being propagated in smaller cities, villages and even in urban settlements through such officers who speak at public gatherings and influence opinions. Until we bring a change in the mindset of those who are in a position of moulding people’s opinions in large numbers, true change is hard to achieve.