Just when you think our politicians can’t possibly sink any lower into the misogyny morass, they pull out a sparkler. This time around, the honour for the my-mouth-moves-faster-than-my-brain award goes to the Minister for Overseas Affairs, Vayalar Ravi. Ravi was being grilled by a journalist from Malayalam channel Matrubhumi. The channel had just interviewed Dharmarajan, one of the main accused in the Suryanelli rape case in which Ravi’s fellow Congressman and Rajya Sabha vice-president PJ Kurien has also been named (he’s the same chap who was presiding over the Rajya Sabha when Jaya Bacchhan made an emotional appeal over the Delhi gang rape case.)
The journalist, who happened to be a woman, kept asking Ravi questions on whether the Congress would support Kurien. Which is when Ravi decided to do something as widely rampant in the political system as corruption – put his foot in his mouth and indulge in more than a spot of misogyny. And thanks to the TV cameras present, we now have Ravi’s sexist turn recorded for posterity.
Of course, as his statements were broadcast all over the country and TV channels broke into a tizzy – with NDTV giving the chopper controversy a miss to focus on this instead, but that’s a story for another day – Ravi gave an apology of the ‘I was just joking, she also laughed’ variety. And instantly joined the ranks of stalwarts like Abhijit Mukherjee and Sanjay Nirupam.
However, in all this, what is lost is the journalist at the receiving end of Ravi’s words – a journalist who remains just a woman on the other end of the microphone. An unnamed reporter who wishes to remain anonymous. Newslaundry contacted her to get her views on the issue. She said that as the minister has apologised it is a closed chapter for her. Not very eager to speak on the issue she nevertheless said that she was shocked at the cruel words.
On whether the fellow journalists at the site protested or not, she said that she was simply doing her duty at the time and the journalists protested at an appropriate forum. Sure enough, the Kerala chapter of the Network of Women in Media, India even staged a protest at the Press Club in Kochi.
Ravi has in one fell comment shown that if you’re a woman, you better not ask uncomfortable questions – unless of course you want your virtue to be questioned. We should shut up and stay in the kitchen and speak only when spoken to. One billion can rise all they want, but till our ruling party can muzzle its misogynist ministers with the same speed with which it likes muzzling the media, no one can help the women of India.