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Another controversy around Kejriwal: Top activist asks, why shouldn't women make a fuss?

Kavita Krishnan
By Our Representative
In a fresh controversy surrounding Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, women activists have taken strong exception to his latest statement on the International Women’s Day (IWD), where he asked men to follow his wife and mother who had supported him during the Aam Admi Party (AAP) campaign in Delhi by continuing their household work. “During my fight against corruption, my wife ran the house while my mother supported me,” he had said.
Kejriwal said in an audio message on radio from Bengaluru, where he has been under naturopathy treatment for high blood sugar and cough, said, “I salute their rock solid tolerance. There is a lot of things that men should learn from them (women), but I have seen that some men comment on their dresses and do an assessment of their character... They talk absurd things about women and also molest them.”
At the same time, he said, “Men who do not respect women outside can never respect women in their homes,” he said, adding, “My message is to all the men in the city. It is admirable how women fulfill their responsibilities honestly and without making any fuss. They play many roles such as that of a mother, daughter, wife, sister and daughter-in-law… They do their job and also take care of their families.”
In a statement posted on Facebook by Shabnam Hashmi, well-known human rights activist, Kavita Krishnan, radical women’s rights leader, has said, “On IWD, the Delhi CM has chosen not to give a message of solidarity to the women's movement fighting for justice, equality and freedom for women. Instead he has chosen to give a paternalistic message that reinforces the stereotype of women in family roles, supportive and nurturing of men.”
“Kejriwal cited the role of his wife and mother in running the house and supporting him while he fought against corruption. This sounds ominously like 'Men will lead, women will run the house and support men who lead'. Is it because he sees this as the only fit role for women that he has no women in his Cabinet and his party's political affairs committee (PAC)?”, Krishan said.
According to Krishnan, “Kejriwal praises 'how women fulfil responsibilities honestly without making any fuss’.” She adds, this suggests Kejriwal hasn’t been listening to “thousands of Delhi women”, who “have in fact been 'making a fuss' about the gendered division of labour and at having to fulfil familial roles as if that's 'women's work' alone!”
“By praising women for not making a fuss about this, you have insulted the legacy of International Women's Day, the day commemorating a century of 'fuss' and fight by women”, Krishnan, who edits a Communist journal, “Liberation, and heads All-India Progressive Women’s Association, said.
“You praise women for their 'rock solid tolerance'. Tolerance of what? Is IWD an occasion to praise women for 'tolerating' injustice, inequality, unfreedom?”, Krishnan asked, adding, “You chose IWD as an occasion to give a message to men. But why a message of 'safety'? Why not tell men on IWD to share the roles of housework and childcare and cooking equally with women? Why not tell men to respect and defend the freedom of women inside their own homes?”
Appealing to all Delhiites to make the city safe, Kejriwal had said, “I want that we should make Delhi such a city where every woman feels free and lives happily. On the eve of Women’s Day, I salute all women of Delhi…Happy Women’s Day.”

Comments

ss said…
Extremely well put.. Thanks Kavita!!
Neeraj Nanda said…
I agree with Shabnam and Kavita that justice, equality and freedom for women is a must and that is the message of the International Women's Day. But does that mean reversal of roles or an equal sharing of responsibilities or no exceptional circumstances. If the Delhi CM was busy campaigning and his wife and mother took care of the home that does not mean an affront to women. I am sure the Delhi CM when not busy must be contributing to household chores or equally sharing the load. Both an extreme feminist approach or an extreme male chauvinist approach will not help in the aim to create gender equality. The answer lies somewhere in between. There are no straight answers and solutions.

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