National Commission for Women Rep Says Badaun Rape‑Murder Victim “Could Have Been Saved” Had She Stayed Home
On Thursday, a member of the National Commission for Women (NCW) told the media that the recently deceased 50-year-old rape-murder victim from Badaun would’ve avoided rape had she stayed home. It’s a remarkably tone-deaf and insensitive statement from a representative of a supposedly feminist organization, but sadly, not a wholly unexpected one.
Chandramukhi Devi, the NCW member in question, said, “Even under any influence, a woman should keep track of time, and should not venture out late. Perhaps, had the victim not gone out in the evening, or gone along with a family member, she could have been saved.”
This is the latest in a series of outright misogynistic statements and/or actions from women representatives of government organizations that work toward women’s welfare. Previously, the Chhattisgarh Women’s Commission Chief said, “… mostly girls file FIR for rape after separation.” The chairperson of the NCW, Rekha Sharma, discussed an alleged rise in ‘love jihad‘ cases with the Maharashtra Governor and later had to clean up her Twitter account after several of her old tweets carrying vulgar, communal sentiments surfaced. In 2018, the NCW shut down internal complaints of sexual harassment from two employees by firing them. In the same year, coincidentally, Sharma rejected a Reuters survey that named India as the most dangerous place for women, saying, “The countries that have been ranked after India have women who are not even allowed to speak in public,” and, “There are many fake cases [of gang rape in India]. Around 30% of cases are fake.”
This begs the question — what is the point of such organizations dedicated to women’s welfare if they are so prone to misogynistic rhetoric?
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The NCW states that its vision is, “The Indian Woman, secure in her home and outside, fully empowered to access all her rights and entitlements, with the opportunity to contribute equally in all walks of life.” However, the NCW has repeatedly failed to enact any valuable change when it comes to matters of the violation of women’s human rights. It put out underwhelming statements during the during the 2012 Delhi gang rape. It called the rape of women by armed forces in 1994 Muri Express case “out of it’s mandate” and did not send a team investigate alleged large-scale sexual violence against Muslim women during the 2002 Godhra riots. Considering this history of inaction, it’s not surprising that the NCW elects members that make statements like Chandramukhi Devi’s.
As of now, Chandramukhi Devi put out a follow-up statement on video both denying she ever said the reported remarks and saying that she takes those remarks back. Rekha Sharma, the NCW chairperson, has condemned her colleague’s statement, tweeting, “I don’t know how and why the member has said this, but women have all the right [to] move [sic] on their will whenever and wherever they want to. It’s society and the state’s duty to make places safe for women.” In that case, it’s about time state organizations like the NCW did their duties thoroughly.