Women legislators cutting across party lines and women activists on Wednesday took exception to Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar’s remark comparing himself with a rape victim, who is forced to undergo repeated questioning. This compelled him to finally apologise.
On Tuesday, the Speaker made the remark in relation to repeated discussions about him being mentioned in the controversial audio clip, which the government has decided to probe through a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
What prompted the Speaker’s apology was a letter submitted by several women members of the Assembly, including Anitha Kumaraswamy, Anjali Nimbalkar, and Sowmya Reddy, who had drawn his attention to the criticism by a section of media over his remarks.
You [women] are like my mother, daughter, and sister. How can I hurt or insult you? I am not one among those who insult women. I apologise if my remarks have hurt anyone. — K.R. Ramesh KumarSpeaker
Women’s groups, including members of the Janawadi Mahila Sangatane, not only condemned the Speaker’s remark but also the members who did not object to it in the House. The sangatane has demanded an apology from the entire House.
“When the Speaker made the remark, both present and former Chief Ministers, Opposition leaders, and seven women legislators were in the House. This shows their insensitivity towards the word ‘rape’. We know the Speaker is not disrespectful towards women, but his insensitive remark is not acceptable. Moreover, it is the duty of women legislators to stand up for gender sensitivity,” said K. Vimala from the sangatane.
Other women activists have started a social media campaign demanding the Speaker’s resignation. Terming his remark as “insensible”, the Forum Against Social Media Assaults on Women has sought his apology as well as his resignation.
Women members, including Shashikala Jolle and Roopali Naik (both BJP), Ms. Sowmya and Laxmi Hebbalkar (both Congress), and nominated MLA, Vinisha Nero, told reporters that the Speaker should have exercised constraint while making the remark and he should not have compared his condition to that of a rape victim.