A top law enforcement official in India has now joined several American politicians and public figures in the not-so-exclusive club of well-known personalities who make insensitive comments about rape, though Ranjit Sinha calls the angry response to his remark “malicious propaganda.”
Sinha (pictured), the director of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, was speaking at a meeting on ethics in sports last week when he attempted to make a statement in support of legalized sports betting. But the analogy he chose was unfortunate, to say the least.
“There are lotteries in states,” he began. “If we can have casinos in tourist resorts and if the government can declare schemes for voluntary disclosure of black money, what is the harm in legalizing betting?”
And then Sinha’s dissertation swerved dangerously off-topic.
“Above all, do we have the enforcement agencies... it is very easy to say... if you can’t enforce it, it is like if you can’t prevent rape, enjoy it.”
Sinha’s apparent implication that rape victims should “enjoy” the experience drew immediate fire and calls for an apology, which Sinha attempted to offer, albeit not entirely successfully.
“I regret any hurt caused as the same was inadvertent and unintended,” he said in a statement, explaining that he was actually trying to point out the error of the belief that if rape should be enjoyed if it can’t be prevented. “I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and commitment to gender issues.”
But his apology was unconvincing to many leading Indian women.
“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,” said women’s rights activist Brinda Karat, in one typical response.
Sinha continued to defend himself Tuesday, calling the “enjoy rape” remark merely “a proverb” that he was quoting, and characterizing the angry response he has received as “malicious propaganda, it’s hitting below the belt, and it’s unfair.”
In 1990, the then-leading candidate for governor of Texas, Clayton Williams, made a similar remark, comparing a spell of overcast weather to a rape, saying, “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”
Williams lost the election to a woman, Ann Richards.
In 1988, the legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight made almost the same comment, when asked in interview how handled job stress.
“I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it,’’ the coach remarked.