Search

Optician says ‘despicable’ Gandhi statue plan degrades women

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 August 2014

Dr Kusoom Vadgama. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Dr Kusoom Vadgama. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

A Temple Fortune optician has launched a campaign to stop a statue of Mahatma Gandhi being erected in Westminster’s Parliament Square because of the Indian independence leader’s “despicable” sexual exploitation of young women.

Mahatma Gandhi addressing a women's meeting in Bombay in 1931. Picture: PA Archive.Mahatma Gandhi addressing a women's meeting in Bombay in 1931. Picture: PA Archive.

Dr Kusoom Vadgama, who has run her own practice in Finchley Road for 46 years, is starting a petition calling on the UK government to scrap the statue plans.

The 82-year-old, founder of the Indo-British Heritage Trust, said she revered Gandhi as a “god” for years until she discovered he used to sleep with teenage girls, including his own great niece, in self-designed tests of his celibacy.

She has decided to speak out now following a spate of gang rapes and hangings involving female Indian victims.

“Half the world’s population are women and look at the way we are treating them in India,” said Dr Vadgama. “Men have got away with murder for too long.

“I can’t see this statue of a man who used women for his experiment. It’s despicable. Go and sleep with a prostitute or another woman, not your niece, who’s barely out of her teens.

“What about the girl who is going through puberty? How does she feel about it?”

Last month, Chancellor George Osborne and then-Foreign Secretary William Hague revealed the plans for a Gandhi memorial during an official visit to India.

Dr Vadgama’s parents were born in India and had moved to Kenya’s capital Nairobi when their daughter was born, instilling a staunch anti-colonialist mindset in her from a young age.

She grew up hating the British government and idolising freedom champions like Gandhi, before moving to the UK permanently in 1953.

Over the years, Dr Vadgama’s views on Gandhi have changed.

“This statue will represent everything negative about Indo-British relationships,” she said. “There is nothing positive about this man that could be represented in Parliament. He didn’t like the British, he wasn’t a Parliamentarian.

“He’s been elevated to a degree where no one can touch him. But why not? Until now, people accepted it – saying, ‘He’s a great man, he did it [slept with teenage girls], so what?’ But it isn’t so what.

“There is something very unpleasant about this statue in Parliament Square and I will do my damnedest to stop it.”

She pointed out there was already a statue of Gandhi in Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, and insisted a more suitable candidate for a Parliament Square statue would be Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian MP.

Dr Vadgama is calling on people to get behind her campaign, adding: “It’s been 100 years since women got the vote, now let’s get our dignity back. When women have been raped and hanged, someone has to stand up for these women.”

If you wish to support Dr Vadgama’s campaign against the statue, email kusoomv@gmail.com

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

13:30

Julia Findlater, deputy headteacher at Portland Place School, gives her top 10 tips for revision success.

12:48

St Anthony’s School for Girls held a special Mother’s Day breakfast to celebrate their loved ones and to raise money for their two chosen charities.

10:10

Camden Council has pledged to keep the subject of mental health at the forefront of the agenda in its bid to improve the wellbeing of young people living in the borough.

Yesterday, 12:18

The future of a family centre which is battling a lack of funding is closer to being secured after 127 children took part in a fun run.

Yesterday, 11:32

A mother-of-nine and her nephew became innocent victims of a “vendetta of violence” when they were shot dead in their own home in East Finchley, the Old Bailey has heard.

Yesterday, 11:20

The Whittington Hospital’s fertility centre is opening its own sperm bank and calling for men between 18 and 40 to donate.

Yesterday, 10:52

A man was subjected to a “disgraceful and prolonged” sexual assault on a busy Victoria Line train between Finsbury Park and King’s Cross.

Yesterday, 10:33

Fire crews tackled a blaze that tore through a three-storey terraced house in Kentish Town.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now