Search

Optician says ‘despicable’ Gandhi statue plan degrades women

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

Yesterday, 16:37
Candlelit vigil for Nazanin Ratcliffe opposite 10 Downing Street. Photo: Polly Hancock

Hundreds of family members, friends and well-wishers attended a candlelit vigil opposite Downing Street for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker held in Iran without charge since April 3.

Yesterday, 14:43
Guilty: Charaf El Moudden

A burglar who targeted pop star Rita Ora has been found guilty of a raid worth more than £200,000 on her Kensal Rise home.

Tue, 17:50
Police were called to reports of an armed robbery

Officers discovered two men armed with a suspected firearm and a large bladed weapon in the NatWest bank

Tue, 15:08
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West has said she will vote down the 'Brexit bill' when it comes before Parliament

Hornsey and Wood Green’s Labour MP Catherine West has said she will vote against Brexit when the referendum bill comes before Parliament in an attempt to undo what she sees as a catastrophic decision by the nation.

Tue, 09:19
Harrow Crown Court (Picture: PA Images)

A letting agent who conned tenants and landlords out of more than £200,000 as part of a ‘crude fraud’ was handed a four and a half year jail sentence in a courtroom packed by victims.

Tue, 08:54
Gavin Brewer (l) and Stuart Meads (r). Facebook

A construction firm has been fined £550,000 for the “wholly preventable” deaths of a police officer and his musician partner who plunged to their deaths after falling through a roadside hoarding in Camden.

Sir Keir Starmer has resigned as shadow Home Office minister

Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer has become the latest politician to quit his shadow ministerial role in a mass exodus from Jeremy Corbyn’s team.

Mon, 12:34
Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer has said the government must now do its best to deliver for the country in the aftermath of the Referendum

Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer has urged the government to make the best of the shock EU Referendum result as the Conservative Party tears itself apart in the aftermath.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe