Women legislators in India want a code of conduct for male colleagues to check sexist remarks

President Ram Nath Kovind during the inauguration of the National Women Legislators Conference- 2022, in Thiruvananthapuram, Thursday, May 26, 2022. The Conference is being hosted by the Kerala Legislative Assembly as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. Photo: PTI

Women legislators at the National Women legislators' Conference being held at the Kerala Assembly complex in Thiruvananthapuram called for a "code of conduct" for the behaviour of male legislators towards their female colleagues.

Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil's outburst at NCP leader Supriya Sule to "go home and cook" formed the immediate context for such a demand. CPM politburo member Brinda Karat called Patil's remark an insult in "entirely sexist male supremacist way". She said there was an excess of sexisms in politics. "They don't want to fight politically," Karat said. She said sexist comments were becoming rampant in the country.

CPM politburo member Brinda Karat
CPM politburo member Brinda Karat. File Photo

Patil was reacting to a comment made by Sule. The NCP leader had wondered aloud how the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh managed to get the Supreme Court to allow 14 per cent reservation for OBCs in the local body polls. "I had asked the MP Chief Minister (Shivraj Chauhan) how he did it but he did not divulge anything," Sule had said. To this, Patil said: "Why are you in politics? Go home and cook. You are in politics and you don't understand how to meet a CM?" Sule's NCP is sharing power with Shiv Sena and Congress in Maharashtra.

"Sule just raised a political question. But if she is told by a respected leader that she doesn't know politics and let her go home and cook, what does it mean," Karat asked. "Let us at least ensure a code of conduct that bans and prohibits sexist comments against women in public life," she added.

Karat also wanted DMK MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi to introduce a Bill in Parliament in these lines. "We have to draw the line and it has to be told in no uncertain terms that if males cross this line they will be in trouble," Karat said. Even BJP legislators like the Gujarat Speaker Dr Nimaben Acharya were seen applauding Karat's words.

President Ram Nath Kovind during inauguration of the National Women Legislators Conference-2022 in Thiruvananthapuram. Photo: PTI

Kanimozhi was game. "I promise you all that I will table a Bill against sexist and derogatory comments against women in public life. It has to be stopped," Kanimozhi said. The DMK MP also wanted to widen the scope of the Bill. “It should also include unspeakable abuse spat on women in public life by faceless men on social media.”

DMK MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi
DMK MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi. File Photo

Kanimozhi also said that such sexist comments would not get the desired effect. “These people should understand that such attacks will only strengthen us. we will also teach you to cook," she said.

Earlier, Karat had also said that Patil would not have made such a comment had he really known how to cook. Though she was listed as a speaker, Supriya Sule could not make it to the conference.

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