Photographs: Reuters Rediff Newsdesk
'Who amongst us have not followed girls?'
'No celebration when Indira Gandhi was born.'
'Anti-rape bill by framed on recommendations of mentally-retarded people.'
'The laws being proposed will mean the end of coeducational schools.'
These are a few strange statements made by our politicians as the anti-rape bill was discussed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The debate witnessed heated exchange of words with some legislators making bizarre points -- linking the problem of sexual harassment with vulgarity in Bollywood numbers and even advertisements.
Rediff.com takes a look at some of the points raised in the Lok Sabha as the Criminal Law Amendment Bill found overwhelming support. Were these MPs backing the bill or opposing it? Your guess is as good as mine!
'Parents do not celebrate the birth of a girl child'
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters
Bharatiya Janata Party's Bhola Singh initiated what probably was one of the most bizarre debates the Lok Sabha witnessed in recent times.
He cited several anecdotes from history to drive home the point that bringing laws alone would not help the cause of women and there was need to change the mindset and culture.
He said he supports the legislation, which was brought in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape, but contented that some of the provisions need to amended in the coming days.
His remarks that parents do not celebrate the birth of a girl child drew angry reactions from women members. He also claimed that when late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was born there was no celebration.
He blamed western influences for rising crime against women and he went on to define a woman's primary task as one of ensuring succession or procreation of the human race.
'Mohabbat to ab khatam hi ho jaayega'
The long speech of Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United in the Lok Sabha touched on issues ranging from "sex starvation" of Indian society to item numbers in Hindi films like Shiela Ki Jawani and Munni Badnaam Hui..
Yadav said that obscene advertisements are being shown on the television.
He also said provisions to make stalking and staring a crime can be misused. "Who amongst us have not followed girls," Yadav said evoking peals of laughter.
He expressed concern whether women will get jobs after the law is passed. "People will be scared to give jobs to women," he said, citing the misuse of the anti-dowry law.
At the all-party meet to discuss the bill on Tuesday he reportedly said, "Mohabbat to ab khatam hi ho jaayega. Ladka jab ladki ke taraf dekhega nahi aur uska peechha nahi karega to mohabbat hoga kaise (Romance will die out now. If a boy doesn't look at a girl or follow her, how can romance happen)?
'Bill framed on recommendations of mentally-retarded people'
Shailendra Kumar of the Samajwadi Party criticised the attire worn by women in certain television serials and films, inviting protests from film actress-turned-politician Jaya Prada, an unattached member.
He said the law can be misused as men could be falsely implicated.
And yet another SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav attacked the anti-rape bill claiming, "It has been framed on the recommendations of some mentally-retarded people."
'Co-education institutes will have to be abolished'
Opposing the legislation, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said policemen would misuse the law to falsely implicate men.
"Had I spoken the truth, there would have been problem. There is no need for this law. You are giving all rights to police. We will be wrongly implicated," Mulayam said.
Noting that there was no inadequacy of law in the country, he cited the execution of rape convicts in some states based on the existing law.
Mulayam also said the existing mixed school system and co-education institutes will have to be abolished to indicate that boys will be in trouble once the law is passed.
'Cover naked Khajuraho and Konark sculptures'
Rashtriya Janata Dal's Lalu Yadav regretted that a self-styled godman came up with a weird comment while referring to the Delhi gang rape victim and people tolerated it.
He said the nation needed to do something about the naked sculptures at Khajuraho and Konark. "Should we cover them?" he asked.
'A lot of you were sniggering when there were comments passed about women'
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant/Rediff.com
Objecting to some of such remarks, Nationalist Congress Party's Supriya Sule said, "I saw even in this frame of the House that there are a lot of men sniggering when there were comments passed about women. It is funny when you are talking about Sheila ki Jawani. But I am sorry to say this. What it would be once it is your daughter or your wife or your daughter-in-law?"
She said it was time to strengthen the system and also show sensitivity to women and respect to women beyond the barriers of speeches and giving idealistic situations.
'The bill is progressive'
Pinaki Misra of the Biju Janata Dal expressed anguish over not being called for the all-party meeting and said the government is bringing in laws in haste without taking into account larger opinion of the House. He said acid attack on women is the most abhorrent form of crime.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde termed as "new" and "progressive" the Criminal Law Amendment Bill which was passed in the Lok Sabha despite several amendments being moved by members and emphasised that it will empower women.
"The whole country was watching this Bill. I am happy that this Bill which Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted to get passed -- has been passed by the Lok Sabha... A new, progressive law will come into force. This is a good law for women," he told reporters outside Parliament House.
He said that this law will give enhanced punishment for crime against women.
'How to deal with 17-yr-old boy sexually assaulting 17-yr-old girl?'
Shinde's deputy R P N Singh said after the heinous crime on the fateful night of December 16, the government had made a "commitment" to pass a strong anti-rape law.
"This Bill has expanded the scope of Article 354 which will include voyeurism, stalking and even acid attacks. An attempt was made to incorporate all issues. There may have been some differences but there is no finality and amendments and be made to the law later," Singh said and praised the J S Verma Committee for submitting its recommendations in 29 days.
"The government has kept its commitment to the nation. We hope it will be passed in the Rajya Sabha as well."
Girija Vyas of the Congress said this law will empower women and provide for stringent punishment. "I feel there are five important points here. We need a strong law, its proper execution, spreading awareness about them, the activism of civil society and the role of the media," she said.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said the law will ensure the severest punishment to those guilty of committing crimes against women.
Sandip Dikshit of the Congress said there is no clarity in the law as to how to deal with a 17-year-old boy who caught in sexual crime against a 17-year-old girl.
'Omit marital rape to protect marriage as an institution'
Sumitra Mahajan of the BJP said a strict law should be passed to protect women from sexual violence. She, however, cautioned against the possibility of its wide misuse.
Citing certain incidents of misuse of the existing law in her Lok Sabha constituency, Indore, Mahajan said, "Provisions should be there in the law to prevent its misuse." She asked the government to "omit" marital rape from the legislation to protect marriage as an institution.
Mahajan suggested that there should be provision for counselling to check incidents of divorces happening due to minor incidents.
Noting that this law was not against men, she said, women "just want a space" to be treated as a human being.
'Government is amending the Bill in haste'
Dara Singh Chauhan of the BSP said his party leader Mayawati has articulated the party's view very well in the all-party meeting held to discuss the bill. Pressing for early passage of the bill, Mayawati had said that if the bill is not cleared in this session, the ordinance will lapse and women in the country will suffer.
Welcoming the bill, Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress said the government is amending the Bill in haste and youngsters should be educated about its provisions. He suggested that courses should be introduced for students above 14 years of age to educate them about the provisions of the law.
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