All of us talk about how India is becoming unsafe for women day by day; What are we doing about it as individuals? How do we support women who face harassment?
All of us talk about how India is becoming unsafe for women day by day; how the mentality of such people is sick and that parents need to do give their sons a better, more sensible upbringing; how the government is not doing enough about it. The recent unfortunate incident in Bangalore has brought the limelight back to this sad state of affairs.
Yes, such patriarchial thinking is deeply rooted in the society and it needs to be changed. Agreed. It is difficult to change it overnight and so the laws need to be stricter. Punishments should be stronger. Agreed. The government needs to be more sensitive. Agreed. Political leaders making insensitive statements should be held accountable and probably stripped of their positions. Agreed. But, shouldn’t we as individuals be doing something as well? Shouldn’t we as a society be doing something?
All of us have gone through some form of molestation at some point of our life. Being ogled at, hearing lewd comments, being inappropriately touched/ groped at crowded places, at deserted places and so on. You are lucky if you haven’t gone through it. For many of us, it has become so common, we don’t even realise it is against the law. We are being sexually assaulted and we can actually file a report. There are people taking salaries from the taxes we pay, to catch these people. Sadly, we just let go of such incidents. We just don’t report it. We don’t want to take the pain of going to the police station.
Yes, the police probably won’t take any action. Yes, they might ask uncomfortable questions, and try to discourage you from filing an FIR. Yes, they may tell you it is a ‘small’ incident and they have graver concerns to work on. It still is our responsibility to report these. The police is not acting on the complaint. It is their fault. The laws are not stricter. It is the Government’s fault. But the crime is not being reported, it is our fault. Anticipating inaction from police should not defer us from filing an FIR. It is sad that no reports were filed on the incidents that happened on New Year’s eve in Bangalore.
As a society, we need to be far more supportive towards the victim. We need to give her moral support and rebuild her shattered confidence and given the state of the police department, probably give her enough courage to face them. But knowingly or unknowingly, we do the exact opposite. An unfortunate incident had happened with me last year, and the reactions I got from the so-called ‘progressive’ people of the society were plain shocking. “That is why I always wear a stole when I go out.” “Forget it, just don’t think too much about it.” “I have heard of worse incidents in Delhi.” “You want to report? But the police guys are bastards.” “My breasts are too small for any such thing to happen to me.” “Bangalore is unsafe, I have stopped going out at nights, You should too.” “You’re planning to file an FIR. Seriously? Why? It was nothing that big too. And it is not possible to catch the guy now.” “You have contacted news channels?! But why? It is not so big.”
Surprisingly or not so surprisingly, most of these ‘shocking’ reactions came from women. The men, in my case at least, were far more encouraging. Probably becuase we women have been conditioned or rather have gotten used to some form of ‘eve teasing‘. Its time we taking this ‘mild eve teasing every girl faces’ seriously.