Sir — The self- styled godman, Asaram Bapu, who blamed the Delhi rape victim for the tragedy, is a representative figure of the old patriarchal society, which is integral to India (“Asaram case”, Jan 10). The comments are highly condemnable as they come from a respected and widely followed spiritual leader. The people of India, especially its women, are better off without the wisdom and advice of political and religious leaders whose beliefs hark back to medieval times, which were known for the oppression and exploitation of women.
The problem does not end with Asaram Bapu apologizing for his comments or claiming to have been misquoted or misinterpreted. In the aftermath of the protests against the Delhi rape, several misogynist comments have been made by many of the leaders of the country. President Pranab Mukherjee’s son, Abhijeet Mukherjee, also found himself in the thick of controversy when he said that the women protesting against the crime were “highly dented and painted” and did not look like students.
It is high time women spoke out for themselves and claimed their rights and freedom. They should protest against a society that has pushed them into a state of perennial victimhood.
Our politicians, preachers and intellectuals would do a service to society and to themselves if they understood and upheld the dignity of women and preached equality. A nation in which women are humiliated and ill-treated is doomed. A change in ideas and outlook is necessary for the well being of society.
Zulfikhar Akram, Bangalore
Sir — The Delhi rape case has held up a mirror to society and reflected its inherent corruption. First, one of the six accused is not going to face the trial like his companions under the Criminal Procedure Code because he is a minor. But his actions suggest otherwise. Second, a godman accused the rape victim herself as much as the perpetrators for the heinous crime. According to him, the girl should have called her rapists her “religious brothers” and begged for mercy. These comments are indicative of the disgraceful stance of the religious teacher. The 73-year-old’s remarks — the latest in a series of gaffes made by public figures, who have blamed women for India’s recent rape epidemic — drew a chorus of condemnation. Respect for women is necessary for a nation to prosper. If that cannot be ensured, India can never be considered a progressive country.
M.M. Kale, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh
Sir — There exists a clear disconnect between our politicians and spiritual leaders on the one hand and the aam admi on the other. One would hesitate to call Asaram Bapu a spiritual leader after the sexist and misogynist comments made by him in the context of the Delhi rape. But one should take his comments with generous pinches of salt because his integrity has long been under question. He is suspected of involvement in the mysterious death by drowning of two boys studying in one of his ashrams.
Strict actions and regular policing are necessary to ensure the safety of women not only in the capital but also in the rural areas. Women should also be encouraged to report incidents of crime perpetrated on them.
S. Kamat, Bardez, Goa
Sir — Asaram Bapu’s comments have revealed his chauvinistic mindset. This spiritual guru has more than 300 ashrams and thousands of followers. One shudders to think about the kind of ideas he preaches to his followers. It is sad to see a man of religion stoop so low and speak disparagingly of women. He needs to be condemned.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad