Opposition lawmaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar in the southern Indian state of Karnataka had to apologize after he sparked outrage for joking that when “rape is inevitable” it’s better to “lie down and enjoy it.”
Kumar made the sexist remark amid a discussion about chaos in Karnataka’s state assembly by the chamber’s speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, drawing laughter from some politicians.
Kageri had been seeking to make a serious point about being unable to “control” lawmakers amid the debate about farmers’ troubles, and “streamline” the process within the chamber, saying he was forced to “just let them talk.”
While some supporters of Kumar found the comment amusing, others were insulted by his language. Female lawmakers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as Kumar’s own Congress Party, decried his comments as “insensitive,” threatening to stage a protest against them.
“When we came to the assembly, we looked up to Ramesh Kumar for his parliamentary acumen. But it looks like he has no respect for women,” BJP politician Poornima Srinivas said. Speaking on Friday, Kumar issued an apology for his rape joke, claiming he “had no intention of insulting women or lowering the prestige of the assembly.”
The legislator’s chamber refused requests from female lawmakers to talk about their concerns after Kumar apologized, arguing that the saga was now closed and there’s no need “to raise the issue and create a controversy.”
Kumar has previously been accused of making sexist remarks. In 2019, he compared himself with a “rape victim” in response to corruption allegations. “I got raped once. But like every rape victim, I am being made to feel like I was raped multiple times,” Kumar said. He apologized a day later following a complaint from a member of his own party.
Rape and sexual assault against women has been a contentious issue in India, with tens of thousands of new cases of rape are still reported throughout the country annually.