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Asaram Bapu’s views about the Delhi gang-rape victim are illogical, insensitive and dangerous: Mihira Sood


Updated: January 10, 2013, 5:12 PM IST
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Asaram Bapu’s views about the Delhi gang-rape victim are illogical, insensitive and dangerous: Mihira Sood
Should Asaram Bapu apologise for his remarks about the Delhi gang-rape victim?

Should Asaram Bapu apologise for his remarks about the Delhi gang-rape victim? Advocate Mihira Sood joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. I don't think he should apologise, as that would mean a missed opportunity to leave him exposed. Asked by: Vipul

A. Whether or not he apologises, the public condemnation of such statements, both verbally and in action is the best way to deal with it.

Q. The media is doing a good job of exposing the regressive and misogynistic views held by these 'spiritual' and political leaders, who are not worthy of leading society in any positive direction, and condemning them unequivocally. But we as a society should not delude ourselves in believing that these views are held by a small minority, when in fact a majority of us do share similar views and approve of them. Is that not why such public figures are able to make such repulsive statements and get away with it? We still have a long way to go before India treats its women and any mistreated classes as equal human beings worthy of dignity and respect. The prevalence of saner and enlightened voices in the public sphere might help bring about a gradual, yet urgently needed change in our mindsets. Asked by: M

A. I agree, but the constant exposure of different people who make such statements eventually does show how widespread this thinking is, and how far we still have to go.

Q. Hi Mihira, Somebody should file a PIL against him. At least people will be more careful in the future if there are dragged to court by common people Asked by: Suhas M

A. I agree, the institution of PIL is an excellent tool of empowerment of the people.

Q. Don't u think that there are double standards when it comes to interpretation of modern views and conservative views. We berate people if someone holds conservative views Asked by: vins

A. It is not about modern or conservative views, it is between views that are illogical, insensitive and discriminatory, and views that uphold and protect the rights and dignity of people.

Q. One fails to understand how the so called educated people are falling for people like Asaram, who calls himself God. Is there any portion of the law applicable to him who dupe others in the name of God? Asked by: Babs Mishra

A. I agree, but I imagine he reflects the misogyny that is prevalent in our society, which education has failed to correct.

Q. People like Mr Guruji through their speeches can make their own followers to have an insane and venomous mindset towards women in the society which will reflect on thir own female children. He shouldn't have given a anti-revolutionary speech like this... Asked by: Anto, Bangalore

A. I agree. His views are illogical, insensitive and dangerous.

Q. I wonder how useful an apology would be, given that it would obviously be to appease the outraged. Can legal action be taken against him and others who make this kind of remark, and if so, what? Second, what do you think the media's policy should be on such noisemakers? To give them the attention they want or to ignore at the cost of not making their idiocy public knowledge? Asked by: SS

A. An apology might only be cosmetic, but it would signal the unacceptability of such statements. Perhaps the media coverage does give them the attention they crave, but it also highlights the prevalence of misogyny in our society, which many people are in comfortable denial about.

Q. Good Evening maam, Nirbhaya the poor girl after the trauma and torture she went through are we allowing her soul to really rest in peace with what is going on? Cant these irresponsible statements stop and what is the way to stop it? Asked by: Christopher Johnson

A. The best way to stop such statements is to reject them and their message - socially, verbally and through our actions in terms of the law, while there is no specific law to deal with hate speech against women, there are interpretations of laws against obscenity, public nuisance, offensive statements that can be creatively interpreted in such cases, though this has not been done so far.

Q. When I see the conversation and the media outpouring I feel there is a mismatch especially with regard to the scale of reporting. The way in which Asaram speaks seems to be like a elderly person warning a child about the precautions that a younger person should take while dealing with this world. to take it to this extant isn't it a little bit of a over reaction. Asked by: vins

A. I disagree, I see a great deal of misogyny in his statement, and in my opinion the media is correct to treat such statements as outrageous and necessary to show people that such public figures hold this view.

Q. Can't we have freedom of speech. Has everyone to be Obama , can't we have few Sarah Palins. why should India be outraged for everything. Then we will have people making only politically correct statements. Asked by: Godwin

A. Protest and criticism is also an essential part of free speech. As long as no one is threatening those who make such statements with violence, I disagree that it is problematic.

Q. How can people in the sub continent break free from these self acclaimed "god", don't they believe in the existence of the one and only? Asked by: Mansoor

A. There are diverse religious beliefs, however we must hold rule of law and of the Constitution above such beliefs.

Q. I still believe there will be endless queues for his "Satsang". Does this itself not say about the hypocrisy that we Indians practice? We are implusive and blame others for everything. Be it corruption / crime against women, we all say ideal things but practice the opposite. It is a sadistic society we live in. Any reactions? Vipul Asked by: Vipul

A. I agree, there is a lot of rot in our society. Hopefully this churning will bring positive results, someday.

Q. Mihira,One more thing I want to ask that when we have IT Act for the people who write something on their FB wall and police arrest them for hurting the religious sentiments .Why we have Law only for the statements that are in electronic media.Why dont we have any law for the people who are hurting the sentiments of people through their public speaking and if we have why no one is filing suit against people like Asaram and Mohan Bhagwat like we have done in case of Owaisi(I still agree that Owaisi case is much different with these) Asked by: Vineet Mishra

A. I agree - the same kind of statements made against a religion or an ethnic community would be prosecuted, but no law exists to protect us from misogynistic speech. Perhaps a creative interpretation of the laws prohibiting obscenity, public nuisance, public mischief etc is the way out.

Q. What does the law say about such remarks from religious and legal people. His comments are morally wrong, but is there a law that can be used against him and other political and religious leaders? Asked by: ks

A. Technically, there is a case that can be made out of obscenity under Section 292 and 294. Section 292 includes in the definition of obscene, anything which has the effect of depraving or corrupting the morals of the public and Section 294 prohibits doing any obscene act in a public place. While this interpretation of obscenity has not been taken so far, since it is usually applied in cases of representations of sexuality, it is an argument worth making, as a start.

Q. In these debates about woman rights there is a growing sense among many people how every view which questions some of the views held by "generation next" seems to evoke such strong lynch mob attitude don't u think that we must also in our search for answers to such brutal crimes also look for wisdom from some spiritual people. instead of simply looking for all answers only from lawmakers and policing. Asked by: vins

A. I agree that moral education that is modern, relevant and non-judgmental is required. But in cases where misogyny is being paraded in the guise of spirituality, it cannot be condoned.

Q. How can a people say that if she had taken Guru Diksha, her inner sense must have forced her to think about God and God must have showed some way to out of that condition. How can Asharam say that she must have not remembered about God in that condition or only Guru Diksha is the way to get hear your inner sense? Asked by: Vineet Mishra

A. I agree with you Vineet, his comments are bizarre, illogical and completely misogynistic. Today he says she should not have boarded a bus without a woman, yet had she boarded it with a female friend he quite likely would still have blamed her for not having gone with male protection.

Q. Yes Asaram Bapu must apologise for his atrocious comments. Self proclaimed God men need to hold their thoughts as they would be misunderstood by their followers. However, there are certain comments that he made which do merit attention. I'm asking a strong law against any heinous crime could be misused for personal selfish reasons like the dowry act. Before making any such law we need to ensure we have provisions that would ensure that these laws are not misused. Asked by: Arun

A. Every law can be misused or subject to false allegations. That is the purpose of a trial, which is in itself a safeguard against malicious prosecution. It is strange that any woman-friendly law is attacked for being open to misuse, as if false allegations cannot be made for theft, negligence, consumer laws or anything else.

Q. I am at a loss to understand why can't his followers fail to see the high stupidity and foolishness in his comments. The only reason I can see that because it is a very crowded market these religious leaders need to resort to gaining cheap publicity by being in the news albeit for wrong reasons. Is there any other reason you can see which may possibly condone to what he said? Asked by: Vipul

A. No Vipul, I think his remarks are reprehensible and there can be no co-donation of such views, especially by a public figure. He could equally have gained publicity by making a statement that is genuinely empathetic and sensitive, particularly since such statements from our political class have been so scant.

Q. Madam, don't you think media-both print and electronic- should not give any cognizance to the statement by Asaram Bapu who himself is having a tarnished image amongst the society? His remarks should simply be blacked out in the media. Asked by: Shyam Vadalker

A. Perhaps it does feed his hunger for publicity but the media needs to highlight such views. There are enough people in the country who will cite examples of a woman President, a woman Prime Minister etc and deny that patriarchy or misogyny still exist. It is important for the media to open their eyes to the reality.

Q. On one hand, when the country is clamoring for justice for rape victims, this self styled god, make such remarks. It just shows their mindset, what makes so many people these persons.....with no supernatural powers. He should apologize and explain to nation, why he said so. Asked by: S ESHWAR

A. His remarks are deplorable, but perhaps it is good that the country can see his misogyny and woman-hating views instead of being oblivious to them.

First Published: January 10, 2013, 5:12 PM IST
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