All hands on deck to malign and mock the Gauri Lankesh. “Wah Wah read and share” tweeted BJP MP Paresh Rawal about a Facebook post of Gauri Lankesh. “She called our mother a sex slave” claimed the Postcard News article about the same post that has been shared more than 60,000 times. Along with online celebrations of her murder, came these veiled social media attacks on Lankesh. “Yet we should condole her death?” asked Postcard News in an attempt to justify the celebratory posts. Others like Paresh Rawal may not have asked the question directly but circulated her old posts that they found objectionable. What is this post on “free sex” that has offended the so-called nationalists? Let us take a look at what Gauri Lankesh had said, its context and how it is being interpreted in a twisted manner after her death.

gauri lankesh sanghis if your mother did not have free sex meaning sex out of free choice then it means one of two things you are a product of rape you are a the product of a sex worker who did not perform sex for free but for a fee. sanghis, the choice is yours, you can either say your mother was involved in 'free sex' or accept that you are a result of either one of the two options that I ahve given above. I stand by kavitha kirshnan and her brave mother. incidentally, my mother had consensual and hence free sex with my father, and i am proud to be their daughter.

The Context: Never unfree, never forced

To understand the context of the “free-sex” post of Gauri Lankesh, one has to go back a long time.

The term “free sex” was used as a slur by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy against Kavita Krishnan of CPI(ML) on national television way back in 2013.

Since then, Swamy has used it several times and each time it has proven to be a cue for the online troll army to attack Krishnan. In 2016, reacting to a news item about barring a woman in a short dress from an Indigo flight, Kavita Krishnan had tweeted, “Stop this kind of sexist idiocy @IndiGo6E Length of our skirts none of your business!”

This was a time that several voices were being raised about moral policing and misogynistic comments by fringe elements associated with the right-wing. There was nothing unusual about Krishnan’s post but it elicited an unusual unprovoked reaction from Swamy. For him it was an attack on middle class values and he referred to Krishnan as a “free sex Naxalite”.

The label “free sex” led to a lot of debate about what is free and what is un-free i.e. paid or forced. In response, Kavita Krishnan had maintained, “One can only pity…. who fear ‘free sex’ – un-free sex is after all nothing but rape” and was extensively trolled for saying so.

It was Kavita Krishnan’s mother who silenced the trolls with her gutsy reply. It was about consent. It was about free choice. “Never un-free never forced”

Hey GM Das! I am Kavita's mother. Of course I had free sex. I should jolly well hope so. As and when I wanted, with the person I wanted. And I fight for every woman and man to have sex according to their consent. Never unfree. Never forced.

Gauri Lankesh’s Facebook post was in support of Kavita Krishnan and her mother. At no point has she called anyone’s mother a “sex slave” as claimed by Postcard News. This brings us to the question, what is the outrage about? What did BJP MP Paresh Rawal find so objectionable? Is it because a woman spoke about the right of every woman to consent and free choice? If free sex is consensual sex, what is the opposite of free sex? Maybe those maligning Gauri Lankesh can explain it better to us.

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