Dear Mirje, have you sent friend request to Taliban yet?

Or, is NCP leader and Maharashtra women’s commission member Asha Mirje any different from rest of the semi-, pseudo- or quasi-Taliban ganglords issuing diktats for free?

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | January 29, 2014



Illustration: Ashish Asthana

Asha Mirje, one can be reasonably certain, is not too keen on going out at 11 pm for a movie, with or without a friend, which is fine. Asha Mirje, one can also be certain, is not a misogynist, which does not add much to her CV but is okay – in an ideal world, being non-misogynist should hardly be a compliment, for it should be par for the course, but then India is hardly an ideal world in many sense of the term.

So why did Mirje, a member of the Maharashtra state women’s commission (MCW) and a leader of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), have a problem with Delhi gangrape victim going out at 11 pm, as she says, and a Mumbai photojournalist going out on an assignment at 6 pm?

Here’s what she said at an event hosted by the NCP women's wing at Nagpur on Tuesday (January 28): “Did Nirbhaya really have go to watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend? Take the Shakti Mills (Mumbai) gang-rape case. Why did the victim go to such an isolated place at 6 pm?"

Like a good citizen, Mirje stressed on the need for women to be “careful”. She said, “We have to ask ourselves, where am I going, with whom am I going, what am I going for, do I really need to go to that place?”

The comments, of course, have led to a furore – and rightly so.

What Mirje perhaps forgot was the fact that when you make a statement these days people have a way of finding out even if they aren’t part of the function – yes, outside Nagpur, too.

A day on, Mirje has neither retracted her statement not cried wolf, claiming, as most people do after discovering their eager foot was playing touch football with their more eager mouth, that she had been misquoted. (Although how exactly you can be misquoted when you are on cameras mouthing off those very words is anyone’s guess. “Misquoted” as amplification is as obsolete as Guttenberg’s press, but that’s a tale best told another day). Instead, she came up with a clarification on Wednesday: “I advised women to avoid places like Shakti Mills,” she was quoted by different media outlets. “Prevention,” she outlined, “is better than cure.”

That gets your goat doubly – in fact, it gets the humble goat by the neck, and no less.

Did the December 16 victim (named ‘Nirbhaya’ by a section of the media, which, meaning fearless, would allow her out without semantic quibbling) go out to watch a film at 11 pm? No sir, and no ma’am, she and her friend came out of the theatre around 8 pm. A theatre in south Delhi, no less. And why the stress on south Delhi? Because it is an upscale part of the national capital where policing and security is purportedly more foolproof (why it should not be the same for every locality is, again, a debate for another day).

Now, 8 pm minus 2 hours (the average length of a film) means she must have gone to the theatre somewhere around 6 pm – most likely before that. But Mirje, of course, presumes that, too, is not a safe hour. For, did she not tick off the Mumbai photojournalist who went to the “isolated” Shakti Mills compound around the same time?

Let’s look at the Mumbai crime. The incident took place on August 23, 2013. It does not need timeanddate.com, or any other meteorological website to tell you that due to its location the sun sets in Mumbai much later. The website, though, will tell you, it set that day at 7.01 pm. The photojournalist left her office for the assignment, with a colleague (male, just to refresh Mirje’s memory) at 5 pm.

The MCW member thinks that, too, is late.

Just to check, or uncheck the other boxes for suggestions she offered women to ensure “prevention is better than cure”:

Q: “Where am I going”?
A: Both women knew precisely.
Q: “With whom am I going”?
A: With a colleague/friend – make, again only to reiterate to Mirje.
Q: “What am I going for”?
A: Time out, work – in respective order of crimes.
Q: And, “do I really need to go to that place”?

The answer to this should be an unequivocal yes, but this is where Mirje compounds her contention.
 
So, it would not be unparliamentary to ask a counter-question of her, would it?

Is Mirje a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as the axiom goes?

Is she implying women should not go out, and the time be damned?

If that be the case, is her emphasis on “prevention” only a fig leaf for her blinkered vision and a facade to cover her misogynist mask?

And, is she any different from the rest of the semi-, pseudo- or quasi-Taliban ganglords issuing diktats for free?

Then why the clarification about “prevention”? Say it like you mean it, Ms Mirje.
 

 

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