ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Politics of Rape

Mamata Banerjee cynically casts aspersions on a rape victim to further her political agenda.

When rape becomes a political power game, every woman, not just a rape survivor, has reason to be afraid. What this suggests is that, for people in the political battlefield, the seriousness of this violent crime and the increasing incidence of rape in our towns and villages are of no concern. This has become evident in Kolkata following the gang rape at gunpoint of a 37-year-old woman after midnight on 6 February. The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s response was unconscionable. Instead of sympathising with the woman and urging the police to move on the case, Banerjee turned around and accused the rape survivor of concocting the story and being part of a conspiracy to malign the state government. For the chief minister to have said this assumes significance not just because she is a woman, and hence expected to understand that few women will cry “rape” without reason, but because she herself has championed cases where women have been victims of violent assault. However, given her response in this case, it would appear that the West Bengal chief minister chooses the victims whose cases she champions according to political compulsions.

This particular case is still being played out as the police in Kolkata investigates it. But it brings to attention several important facts in cases of sexual assaults against women. First, when the incident of an individual rape gets embroiled in politics, the victim is forgotten as well as the horrifying nature of the crime. This is not the first time this has happened in West Bengal. When the Left Front government was in power, the roles were reversed in cases around rapes during the Singur and Nandigram agitations.

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