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Stop the Mom-Splaining: An Open Letter to Kirron Kher

Equal rights activist Harish Iyer pens an open letter to the Chandigarh MP.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
Stop the Mom-Splaining: An Open Letter to Kirron Kher
i

Dear Member Of Parliament Kirron Kher,

I have admired your sarees. I have admired your bindis. I have admired your acting. And that’s it. Now I am asking you a favour back after showering these praises on you. There is no polite way of saying this. And this may hurt. So brace yourself – STOP THIS MOM-SPLAINING.

A woman was gang-raped when she took an auto rickshaw home in Mohali near your constituency, Chandigarh. You assumed the role of a mother of the girl and did what most mothers do – put the onus of safety on the daughter. “Agar koi teen aadmi baithe hai uske andar, toh aapko beta usmein nahi baitna chahiye”.

I am not building a case for “aurat hi aurat ki dushman hai” here, but I am focusing on the larger point that in all the dariyaa dil that you showcased in beta-beta-ing the girl, you forgot that it is your job as Member of Parliament to ensure that the city is safe for all people.

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Kirron, yes, your views are not very different from that of other mothers. However, here is a fundamental difference – we don’t need a jagat-maata.

We need the MP who has won the mandate from the people of Chandigarh to ensure that the constituency and the neighbourhood is safe. If you cant ensure safety, kindly do not shower your advice either. Women will march out. Women will go out. Women will take rickshaws. And you will have to work on a strategy that ensures that they feel safe. There is no polite way of putting this – THIS IS YOUR JOB.

However, I am sure that because I am using this tone in this opinion piece, your followers will try to nullify this by comparing it with other incidents of women in power who have shown zero respect for women survivors and victims who are dead.

Yes, congresswoman Sheila Dixit said “one should not be adventurous” when the young Headlines Today (now rechristened India Today) journalist Soumya Vishwanathan was shot dead. And that was disgraceful and shameful for her to say something so insensitive. Her choice of words were rude and uncouth. If you were in her place, I can well imagine - after this statement of yours - that you would have said the same thing with 27-and-a-half “betas” in one never ending sentence of pure unadulterated Punjabi-fied Hindi.

I am aware that the Trinamool Congress supremo said that the rape of my friend Suzette Jordan was a conspiracy against her state. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar from her party said, “It was a misunderstanding between two parties involved in professional dealing — a woman and her client.”

The internet has memory that refuses to be wiped off. We shall not forget any of them and their work in demeaning people of their own gender. They were as wrong as you are and two wrongs don’t make a right.

Women especially are constantly told by the mothers, “dress decently” or “don’t take the train this late”. Some of my friends have also been slapped by their parents when they complained of eve-teasing by men in the locality. “Yeh kapde pehen ke jaayegi toh kyaa pooja karega?”. There are parents who have stopped daughters from working because they will get bullied, bottom-pinched and sometimes molested. There are parents who have got their daughters forcefully married because it is good to gift wrap the gift to the new person before the gift gets damaged. Their definition of chastity ends with a broken hymen. Irrespective of consent or not.

It is she to blame. Always, she to blame. You blamed her too with your not-so-innocent comment. Shame on you.

I wish you were the Member of Paliament who stood with the survivor, who worked extra hard to make the city safe for everyone. I wish you spared us the mom-splaining.

This is not about BJP or Congress or Trinamool Congress - this is about the sensitivity and relegation of duty by a parliamentarian. The ownership of every survivor of their body is a political statement. As a victim of assault and violence myself, we don’t need a mother, we have our own. We need a government and if you don’t do well, we will work and get our own.

So, get on with the real life act, dear Kirron. We need someone to change the education system, challenge patriachy, empower all genders so that we could dream of an equal world.

Weren’t you the one who started the chat show PurushKshetra on Zee TV that challenged patriarchy? What happens to you heroines when you jump out of the television set?

Let me be very clear, Kirron Maa. You are an MP, not a mother. And even if you were the mother, you have no right to dis-empower survivors and empower rapists by telling the woman who was raped that she was at fault.

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For heaven’s sake Kirron, stop the mom-splaining.

However, if you still insist, I urge you to show your mamta towards the rabid rapist. They need to be taught the lesson of love and respect, not that of the survivor/complainant. The rapists are the ones who are the result of bad parenting.

Regarding your overflowing mamta for survivors, I just have to say - “Maa tu rehne de. Tujse naa ho paayega”.

With genuine concern,

Harish Iyer

Child rape survivor,

Fortunately not your beta

(Harish Iyer is an equal rights activist working for the rights of the LGBT community, women, children and animals.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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