Karnataka Speaker Apologises, Calls for Deletion of Rape Comment
One day after Speaker Ramesh Kumar likened himself to a rape survivor, he apologised to those hurt.
Facing flak over his comments comparing his own alleged complicity in Audiogate, that is presently taking the Karnataka Assembly by storm, to the condition of a rape survivor, Speaker Ramesh Kumar on Thursday, 13 February asked for his comments to be deleted from records.
Addressing the Budget session after it was adjourned till the afternoon, Kumar said that he had been approached by a contingent of female legislators about their discomfort regarding the comments made by Kumar on the floor of the House on Tuesday, 12 February.
During the debate on audio tapes allegedly incriminating Yeddyurappa, the Speaker had said that he felt like a rape victim, who gets verbally ‘raped’ multiple times while on trial.
“They (female MLAs) have condemned what I said, they said that it is disrespect against women. It was not my intention to disrespect any women. Media channels can make these things go viral. I want my statements to be removed from the records, and never again will any woman feel insulted here. I want to make this clear. If anyone has felt bad, I apologise.”Speaker Ramesh Kumar on Wednesday
He went on to say that media channels had gone all out with his statement, as they had no other “masala” news for the day. He also said that some women lawmakers had approached him and intimated him of their discomfort with the comments. He said, “The women came to me and said that they were being questioned on their silence as they were all present yesterday when people laughed at my statements. They said that they actively participate in the House discussions and such statements don’t reflect well. I had no intention to offend anyone. They are all akin to my relations.”
‘Didn’t Expect This From Such a Dignified Chair’
A contingent of women MLAs including Dr Anjali Nimbalkar, Soumya Reddy, Lakshmi Hebbalkar, Roopkala Shashidhar and others met with the Speaker on Thursday and informed him of their discontent.
Speaking to the media after the session, Dr Nimbalkar said that the women had approached him and asked him to delete his comments from the records.
“Rape victim comment was taken in a very insensitive manner inside the session which actually should not have been taken by all the respected members in the session. He meant to say that he feels compared to a rape victim, going through the same pain, but the insensitivity shown by the House was very inappropriate, and we all members, actually, didn’t expect this from such a dignified chair..So today morning we all requested him to delete the example which he had given yesterday during the proceedings. He gave a second thought on that and he has acted accordingly,” she said.
What Was the Context of the Comment?
Ramesh Kumar compared himself to a rape victim, during the debate on the Yeddyurappa audio tapes, claiming he was like a victim who had been verbally raped several times during a trial.
“My situation is like that of a rape victim. Rape happened just once. If you had left it at that, it would have passed. But when you have reported the rape and the accused is put in jail, his lawyers will ask how did the rape happen, what time it happened, how many times it happened, how all did he rape.. etc. At the end of it, you get justice or not, rape happened once, but you get raped 100 times in the court. This is my condition (sic).”Ramesh Kumar
The rape joke didn’t end there. Eshwarappa in response said it is only after Kumaraswamy brought up the tapes that “it became clear how times you (the Speaker) were raped”. Most of the legislators burst into laughter following these statements.
Censure From All Sides
Kumar’s remarks drew censure from former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti who tore into the other lawmakers laughing at the comment on Tuesday.
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