Perhaps opening a new chapter in a season of national outrage over brutality on women, Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar came the nearest to calling the Park Street rape victim a sex worker when she described the February 5 incident not as a rape but as a 'misunderstanding between a lady and her client.'
Significantly, Ghosh Dastidar is a gynaecologist who is not only widely travelled with exposure to various countries and cultures, but also studied at King's College, London. She also heads the women's wing of Trinamool Congress.
Dastidar has also authored two books on gynecology.
"If you're referring to the Park Street rape, see that is a different case altogether. That was not at all a rape case. It was a misunderstanding between the two parties involved between a lady and her client. This was not a rape," Ghosh Dastidar told a television channel on Friday. She made this comment while reacting to another obscene comment made by senior CPI(M) leader Anisur Rehman on chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Ghosh Dastidar switched off her phone after the comment was televised. Till late evening, none of her party leaders condemned the comment.
Shocked with Dastidar's comment, on Friday evening the victim requested leaders not to politicise such issues and help victims get justice instead. "People have entrusted them with the safety and security of our lives. They should not make such accusations," the 37-year-old victim, a single mother of two, said.
Recently, while talking to HT, the rape victim had rued that a section of the government and the ruling party tried to indicate that she was a sex worker. "Had I been a prostitute, I would not have to suffer through financial crisis," she had said on December 18.
Before the incident, the Park Street victim lost her job in a call centre and is not able to foot the school fees of her two daughters. Dues have piled up with the landlord too and she is looking for a cheap place to stay. "Forget Christmas gifts, I don't have enough money to buy food," she had told HT.
In February chief minister Mamata Banerjee had termed the incident as concocted and alleged it was cooked up to malign her government. Later transport minister Madan Mitra also questioned the morals of the woman, who would befriend strangers at 2 am at a discotheque. But before Ghosh Dastidar none suggest the victim was a sex worker.
Incidentally, Kolkata Police has already filed a chargesheet confirming gangrape on the woman.
However, the head of the detective department had to move out from her position after she contradicted the chief minister and established the crime through prompt investigation.
Trinamool leaders were, however, uncomfortable with the incident as it has become a prominent tool of flaying the party and its leaders.
Incidentally on December 24, theatre actor-director Arpita Ghosh, a close aide of Mamata Banerjee, remarked the Park Street incident and the New Delhi one are not comparable as they involved different degrees of brutality.
On Friday, Congress leaders such as Deepa Dasmunshi and Pradip Bhattacharya severely criticized Ghosh Dastidar's comment calling it most outrageous and unfortunate as it came from a woman.
"This is unthinkable, especially from a woman who is also a doctor. It is demeaning both for her and for her party. I cannot comprehend why she made such a comment, especially when everyone knows it was indeed a rape," said Trinamool MP Kabir Suman.
"What has gone wrong with our politicians that they are making such comments! It's just unbelievable. A rape is a rape and the Park Street incident is as heinous as the Delhi rape. It is completely unacceptable that we are increasing their pain instead of trying to share the pain," remarked Pradip Bhattacharya, WBPCC president.