NEW DELHI: An Indian politician has sparked outrage after joking about rape in parliament. Ramesh Kumar, former parliamentary speaker-turned congressional leader from southern Karnataka state, made the remark during a debate on Thursday.
He made the jibe as current speaker Vishweshwar Kageri struggled to control a debate on farmer’s rights, saying he was temped to sit back and let the row rage. ‘There is a saying: When rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it,’ Mr Kumar replied to laugher from Mr Kageri and elsewhere in the house.
But the remark also sparked outrage among female members of the house, who accused Mr Kumar of belittling an issue that continues to plague India. Poornima Srinivas, of the ruling BJP, shot back: ‘When we came to the assembly, we looked up to Ramesh Kumar for his parliamentary acumen. ‘But it looks like he has no respect for women.’
Roopakala M, another lawmaker, added: ‘A woman who faces sexual assault suffers trauma all her life. It is wrong to use this as an analogy for something else.’ Mr Kumar has since apologised for the remark on Twitter, describing it as ‘indifferent and negligent’.
‘My intention was not trivialise or make light of the heinous crime, but [to make] an off the cuff remark! I will choose my words carefully henceforth,’ he said. But he declined to make an on-camera apology while attending parliament on Friday and has refused to address the issue since. Mr Kageri, who also faced ire for laughing at the ‘joke’, refused to allow further debate on the issue during Friday’s session.