“If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it,” said Ranjit Sinha, the head of India’s police department, at a conference on Tuesday.
Yeah, that might be one of the dumbest comments about rape we’ve ever heard an official say… and that’s including Todd Akin’s claim that women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate” rape.
Strangely enough, Sinha wasn’t even intending to discuss the nation’s rape crisis; India’s highest-ranking police official was at a conference to share his views on gambling. Despite restrictive gambling legislation currently in place, many Indians still find ways to illegally gamble. Therefore, Sinha believes that the country should tax and regulate gambling instead.
Unfortunately, this argument was followed with a blunder of an analogy. “If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying, ‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it,’” Sinha said. Unsurprisingly, his simile has been received as poorly as it was conceived.
Sinha claims that his words have been “misunderstood” and that he was trying to suggest that just because people may still try to gamble illegally doesn’t mean they shouldn’t work on new legislation. However, since he had just been arguing that India should make the most of a bad situation by legalizing gambling, many still interpret Sinha’s words as encouragement to women to see the bright side of violent sexual assault.
Regardless, both interpretations are highly offensive. Equating rape to a subject like gambling trivializes the issue. Suggesting, even jokingly, that women might “enjoy” rape shows how out of touch the police leader is with the issues women in his country face.
Indeed, the ongoing rape epidemic in India only makes Sinha’s offhanded comment even more controversial. The Human Rights Campaign found that a woman is raped in India every 30 seconds. After a brutal, well-publicized gang rape last year, it took massive protests to incite the Indian police into action. Still, the police won little support when they wound up arresting many of the protestors, as well. State officials have also been criticized for doing little to address the root causes of rape.
Brinda Karat, the leader of India’s Communist Party, made sure not to bumble her words as badly as Sinha when asked for a comment. “It is sickening that a man who is in charge of several rape investigations should use such an analogy. He should be prosecuted for degrading and insulting women,” she said.
Though Sinha eventually apologized for his remarks, he was initially defensive, labeling the calls for his resignation “malicious propaganda.” If you believe his words are indicative of a far greater problem, however, join others in the Care2 community in signing a petition asking Sinha to step down.