Former Congress MLA Faces Backlash for Insensitive Remarks on Rape Survivor
Former Congress MLA Faces Backlash for Insensitive Remarks on Rape Survivor

A former Congress MLA from Karnataka has landed in controversy for reportedly “scolding” a rape survivor and her father-in-law who sought his help, as the alleged phone conversation has gone viral on social media.

The incident occurred on October 16 when Congress leader and Amaregouda’s associate Sanganagouda Patil allegedly attacked and raped a woman working in the fields in Tavargera town in Koppal district. The survivor sought medical attention at Koppal District Hospital and complained to Tavargera police on October 18.

The Viral Audio Clip

According to reports, the survivor’s uncle contacted Amaregouda Bayyapur, the former MLA, for assistance seeking justice. In the purported audio recording, Amaregouda is heard making callous statements, implying that a single individual cannot commit rape and that such accusations could lead to the loss of the family’s dignity.

“If you say it is rape, do you understand how much ostracisation your family will face? You will lose your dignity, and nothing will happen. If a rape has to happen, there has to be 3-4 persons. A single man cannot rape a woman. It is not possible even from the God Brahma. It is not right to make such allegations. What will happen? At best, he will be sent to jail,” Amaregouda reportedly said.

He went on to make further controversial remarks, stating, “How can he rape? She must have screamed. One cannot clap with one hand. It needs two hands. You bring a healthy man, and I will send a woman, ask him to rape her, let’s see.”

The conversation has shocked many, who are now demanding an apology from the former legislator, even as they question if such people can be trusted to pass laws for the safety of women and children and implement them.

The Accused Congress Leader

The accused Congress leader, Sanganagouda Patil, is a close associate of Amaregouda and a former president of the Koppal District Congress Committee. He is also a relative of the survivor’s husband, who works as a driver in Bengaluru.

The survivor, a 35-year-old mother of two, alleged that Sanganagouda had been harassing her for a long time and had threatened to kill her husband if she did not comply with his demands. On October 16, he allegedly dragged her to a nearby field and raped her.

The survivor’s father-in-law, who was also working in the field, tried to intervene but was beaten up by the accused. The survivor managed to escape and ran to a nearby village, where she sought help from some women. She was then taken to the hospital and the police station, where she filed a complaint.

The Police Response

The Tavargera police have registered a case against Sanganagouda under sections 376 (rape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

The police have also recorded the survivor’s statements, her father-in-law and the witnesses. However, the accused has not been arrested yet and is said to be absconding.

The police have also taken cognizance of the viral audio clip and said they will verify its authenticity and take appropriate action.

The Former MLA’s Reaction

TNM reached out to Amaregouda, who refused to comment on the video. “Please do not ask me about it (audio clip). I am mentally disturbed by this.”

Amaregouda, who represented the Kushtagi constituency in the Karnataka Assembly from 2013 to 2018, lost the 2018 elections to BJP’s Doddanagouda Patil. He is currently the president of the Koppal District Congress Committee.

He has not issued any apology or clarification for his remarks so far.

The Congress Party’s Stand

The Congress party has distanced itself from Amaregouda’s remarks, saying that they are his personal views and do not reflect the party’s position.

The party’s state unit president, DK Shivakumar, said that he has sought an explanation from Amaregouda and that the party will take action against him if he is found guilty.

The party’s women’s wing also condemned Amaregouda’s remarks and demanded his expulsion.

The national spokesperson, Randeep Singh Surjewala, tweeted, “Congress Party disapproves the exchange of highly objectionable & insensitive banter between Karnataka Assembly Speaker & Sr. Congress MLA in the House.”

The Women’s Rights Activists’ Outrage

The women’s rights activists have expressed outrage over Amaregouda’s remarks and demanded strict action against him.

The chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Rekha Sharma, said that she has taken suo motu cognizance of the matter and has written to the Karnataka Director General of Police to take action against Amaregouda and Sanganagouda.

She also said that Amaregouda’s remarks are “extremely sad and unfortunate” and that he is a “misogynist” who has a “horrible mindset towards women”.

She said, “It’s disgusting. If they sit in assemblies and speak like this, they must behave with women in their lives.”

The Karnataka State Commission for Women has also noted the incident and sought a report from the Koppal district police.

The chairperson of the commission, Pramila Nesargi, said that Amaregouda’s remarks were “shameful” and “unacceptable” and that he should be booked for abetment of rape.

She said, “He should be ashamed of himself. He is not fit to be a public representative. He should be booked for abetment of rape, and his party should expel him.”

The Other Politicians’ Comments

Amaregouda’s remarks are not an isolated case of politicians making insensitive comments about rape and women. Several other politicians from different parties have also made such remarks, drawing criticism and condemnation from various quarters.

Some of the examples are:

  • In 2014, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav opposed the death penalty for rape, saying, “Boys will be boys. They commit mistakes.”
  • In 2012, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that rape cases in India were on the rise because men and women had the opportunity to interact with each other more freely. She said, “Earlier, if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded, but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options.”
  • In 2012, former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala backed Khap Panchayat’s demand to reduce the age of marriage for girls to curb incidents of rape. He said, “People used to marry their girls to save them from Mughal atrocities, and a similar situation is arising in the state. I think that’s why Khap has made such a decision, and I support it.”
  • In 2014, actor and Trinamool Congress leader Tapas Pal was caught on tape threatening to let loose his men on his rivals and their women. He said, “If any of your people touch anyone from TMC, I will destroy you. I will not spare them. I will send my boys, and they will rape people.”
  • In 2014, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur described rape as a social crime, saying, “Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong.” He also said, “This social crime depends on men and women. Sometimes, it’s right; sometimes, it’s wrong. Until there’s a complaint, nothing can happen.”

These remarks show the deep-rooted patriarchal and misogynistic mindset of some of the politicians in India, who fail to respect women and their rights and dignity. They also reflect the need for more awareness and sensitization among the political class and society to prevent and punish such crimes and support the survivors.

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