K. Sudhakar drew widespread criticism for saying many modern Indian women want to stay single and are not willing to bear children even after marriage
After his remarks that many modern Indian women want to stay single and are not willing to bear children even after marriage drew widespread criticism, Health Minister K. Sudhakar clarified that he did not mean to single out women, but only stressing on the positive role played by family in handling mental stress.
The Minister had made the remarks at the World Mental Health Day programme organised by NIMHANS in Bengaluru on October 10.
“It is unfortunate that a small part of my address out of the 19-and-a-half-minute-long speech has been taken out of context, and thereby losing out on the larger point I was trying to make,” he said in a statement on October 11.
The Minister asserted that it is widely established through research and studies that in a situation where the mental health resource is a scarcity, families form a valuable support system. “Indian society is collectivistic, and promotes social cohesion and interdependence. The traditional Indian joint family, which follows the same principles of collectivism, has proved to be an excellent resource for the care of the mentally ill,” he said.
Quoting a paper in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, the Minister said: “Indian and Asian families are, therefore, far more involved in caring for their members. Indian families are more intimate with the patient, and are capable of taking greater therapeutic participation than in the West.”
“My statement about the younger generation shying away from marriage and reproduction is also based on a survey. The findings of YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey shows that, among millennials, 19% are not interested in either children or marriage. Another 8% want children, but are not interested in marriage. Among post-millennial (or Gen Z adults), 23% are not interested in either children or marriage. As in the case of millennials, 8% want children but are not interested in marriage. There are very little gender-wise differences in these trends. It is applicable to both boys and girls.”
Meanwhile, condemning the Minister’s remarks, Swaraj India has demanded a public apology.
“The atrocious, misogynist and sexist statement by Health Minister K Sudhakar is not based on any fact, and is made to show women in poor light. His statement is a reflection of how women and reproductive rights are barely respected. Women are constantly policed about their bodies and choices they make,” said Nisha Gulur, president, Swaraj India, Bengaluru Urban district unit.
“This is not the first time such a statement has been made by a political leader. Political leaders from many parties make anti-women statements and get away with them. When politicians give voice to the ugliest forms of misogyny and sexism, it is especially important to fight back, so that the majority voice of the women is not silenced,” she added.