Taking a break from the attempted hilarity over here at RTDM , I present something serious—from an article published October 18, 1946 (I am assuming this is genuine)
[Update: Puneet points out a one typo in the piece which he feels calls into doubt its authenticity. So here, to support the above “suspect” article is another one (October 18, 1946 and containing essentially the same report about Gandhiji asking for women to commit suicide), written by one Preston Grover, whose bonafides as a correspondent for the Associated Press is attested to by this obit in the NY Times.I also now have the full scanned page of the front page of the newspaper where this article was published originally. If anyone else doubts the veracity of the piece, kindly email me.]
Mohandas K Gandhi advised women in the riot-torn areas of Noakhali tonight to commit suicide by poison or other means to avoid dishonor.
Later on in the article,
Gandhi addressing several hundred listeners in the untouchable’s colony here advised “everyone running the risk of dishonor to take poison before submission to dishonor. “
In the official version of his statement given out by his secretary, no reference was made to other forms of suicide, but listeners fluent in Hindustani said he advised women in imminent danger of dishonor to use knives or guns to kill themselves, or to throw themselves into the water to drown.
I do not know about you but I found Gandhiji’s statement to be shocking to say the least. Here is the father of our nation articulating the belief that a woman’s sexual chastity is what solely defines her identity—-once that so-called ‘honor’ is gone, her staying alive is meaningless. Mind you it’s not the existence of the sentiment that’s shocking (after all, this mindset is what drives honor killings even today) but the identity of the person who is expressing the sentiment that is.
Or maybe I am wrong.
Maybe this is an extreme form of non-violence that the Mahatma is preaching, where rather than having a woman defend herself by shooting as many assailants as she can (if she be so lucky so as to get a gun) thus possibly saving herself from rape, it is preferable that she shoot herself, sparing her attacker from death, thus triggering a chain of remorse and introspection in the mind of her would-have-been rapist.
Of course even this interpretation does not make it any less shocking.