Wednesday, November 13, 2013

India: Director of FBI-Equivalent in New Delhi Makes Insensitive Comment Trivalizing Rape

According to Reuters and The Times of India, the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Ranjit Sinha, 60, women's rights groups on Wednesday (November 13) called for the equivalent of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in India to resign after making reference to to a badly constructed simile he was trying to link to sports ethics while attending a panel discussion on Tuesday (November 12).

Sinha, given his senior position in the Indian government, jokingly said, "If you can't prevent rape, enjoy it."

After seeing the reaction of those in attendance, Sinha attempted to apologize for his statement, by then the "genie was out of the bottle" and couldn't be returned.

COMMENT: By Wednesday (November 13) women's rights groups were calling for Sigha to resign from office, which is the only way that a public servant's insensitive statement can be neutralized and calmed.

Regardless of his intent to connect his statement to sports ethics, it failed miserably, thus mandating his prompt resignation. If he's lucky, he may get away with salvaging his pension, which at this point is questionable, although very likely given the prevailing legal system in India.

Sinha no doubt failed to comprehend the understandably emotional reaction to his statement, particularly after the gang-rape on a New Delhi bus and ultimate death of a young medical student in December 2012 sparked nationwide protests, not to mention wholesale rapes of women nationwide, which is why solo foreign women have stopped traveling to India by as much as 35%.
 
Kavita Krishnan, an activist with the All India Progressive Women's Association, called for Sinha to step down. "How can he remain the head of India's premier investigation agency?" she said.

Nirmala Sitharaman, spokeswoman for the main opposition group, the Bharatiya Janata Party, called the remarks "shocking."

Following a public outcry over the Delhi attack, India introduced tougher rape laws in March 2013, which include the death penalty for repeat offenders and for those whose victims are left in a "vegetative state."

"If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying 'if you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it'," he said at a meeting on sports ethics.

"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," Brinda Karat told THE HINDU.


Unfortunately for Sinha, his only way of correcting the harm he has caused is to resign from office.

Sinha's statement is also a reminder to all public servants everywhere that they should not feel too secure in their positions to the point that they trivialize or detract from the seriousness of their office. This is particularly true of law enforcement.  

Rather than making it difficult for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ranjit Sinha should make it easy on the PM and tender his resignation today with a strong recommendation that it not be declined.