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Punish CPIM Leader Anil Basu for Sexist Abuse Against Women

By All India Progressive Women's Association

New Delhi, April 24, 2011

While campaigning for the ongoing West Bengal Assembly elections at Hooghly district’s Arambagh sub-division, Anil Basu, 7-time CPI(M) MP from Arambagh Constituency in Hooghly district on Friday attacked Mamata Banerjee with crude sexist abuse. In presence of senior party officials and a massive crowd, he compared Mamata Banerjee to the sex workers of Sonagachi.

Anil Basu’s misogynist abuse personifies the patriarchal humiliation to which a woman in public life is repeatedly subjected. Basu may have won 7 elections but he has shown that he cannot deal with politics as politics when women enter it. When it comes to a woman political opponent, he immediately dumps political arguments, and falls back instead on the easy patriarchal staple - attacking their sexuality and branding them as prostitutes.

During the Singur agitation, too, Anil Basu had declared that if he had his way he would have taken Mamata by the hair and dumped her at her Kalighat house instead of allowing her to continue her sit-in protest at the gate of the Tata factory. Apparently, this CPIM leader could not contend with an agitation led by a rival woman leader without resorting to the patriarchal imagery of a mythical Dusshasana’s methods.

The West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has said the language used by Basu is ‘unpardonable’, and he has asked the CPIM to issue Basu a warning. But if such verbal violence intended to humiliate women in public life is indeed unpardonable in the CPIM’s eyes, how can a warning be sufficient? Why has the CPIM and the West Bengal State Government yet to act against Anil Basu?

On previous occasions, too, CPIM leaders have responded with similar patriarchal taunts and abuses. The late Suhas Chakraborty ridiculed the Trinamul leader’s Maa-Mati-Manush slogan saying: “She is an infertile woman; what does she know about Maa?” CPIM’s Central Committee member Benoy Konar asked CPIM’s male cadre to “bare their backsides” to Medha Patkar at Nandigram. On those occasions, when electoral considerations were not immediate, there were no condemnations forthcoming from the CPIM.

The CPI(M) also needs to apologise to the sex workers of Sonagachi, for the humiliation Basu has heaped on them. Pushed by a system that has thrown these poor women into the margins, so that they can be devoured, all they have done is struggle to eke out a living and survived. Why should they be invoked as a symbol of shame? What have they done to be ashamed of? Basu has no business tearing apart the dignity of Sonagachi’s sexworkers; rather he and his party should be answerable as to why women in Sonagachi continue to live such deprived lives after more than three decades of CPIM rule.

Kavita Krishnan,

National Secretary, AIPWA



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