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Women’s panel a sinecure for out-of-work politicians?

analysis Updated: Jul 01, 2016 17:22 IST
KumKum Dasgupta
National Commission for Women

This was one of the photos circulating on social media showing Soumya Gurjar (holding her phone) clicking a selfie with a rape victim (face blurred) and the chairperson of the Rajasthan Women’s Commission.

If controversy’s child Salman Khan shocked India last week by his insensitive remark that he felt like a “raped woman” after his gruelling schedule for his new movie, this week it was the turn of the Rajasthan State Commission Women (RSCW).

On Thursday, RSCW member Somya Gurjar was caught on camera taking a selfie with a rape victim when she and the state panel’s chairperson Suman Sharma met the survivor at a mahila police station in Jaipur North district.

Even though Gurjar resigned after the selfie clip went viral on media, both she and Sharma did not seem to be one bit apologetic about the incident.

Both --- like the actor ---- refused to say sorry and claimed that the victim asked Gurjar to take her photo.

In India, making public the name or identity of a rape victim is prohibited under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code.

Interestingly, DCP (Jaipur North) Anshuman Bhomiya, who was also seen in the photograph, has said that he was unaware of the incident.

Read | Salman Khan says he felt like a ‘raped woman’, stirs controversy

The RSCW member’s insouciant and cavalier action should not surprise us because even such panels has for long become a parking lot for many women who have little or no understanding of issues or knowledge of the law and are only there because of their political connections.

Nowhere on the websites of RSCW or its mothership, the National Commission for Women (NCW), can one find detailed information about the panel’s members and their experience in handling women-related issues.

I searched online for Gurjar and Sharma’s background and found nothing.

In a country when violence against women is common, staffing such critical organisations with incompetent and insensitive women is gross injustice and shows lack of commitment on the part of the State.

Even the NCW has not been devoid of such characters. Former NCW chairperson Mamata Sharma once famously advised women: “Nowadays boys are very enthusiastic. If a group of boys eve teases you by calling you sexy, you should not get provoked and instead you should take it positively. Sexy means excitingly beautiful and charming. You should take it sportingly…If you take it otherwise and get offended, it leads to fights.”

These women’s panels are just comfortable sinecures for out-of-work small-time politicians.