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From blaming women’s clothes to Western culture for the recent harassment of women in Bengaluru, our politicians are shaming the country with their misogynistic statements.
My best friend’s daughter recently got a job in Saudi Arabia. “How can you allow your daughter to go to Saudi Arabia ? Don’t you know women are treated like second rate citizens there?” I fumed. It was beyond my imagination as to how could an educated mother send her young daughter to Saudi Arabia for a job.
My friend replied calmly, “If she was working in Delhi or any other city in India, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night but I know she will be safe in Saudi. No man will dare misbehave with her.”
Today, women are in the boardrooms, in space, factories, and even in the armed forces but irrespective of their status, strata and education, they aren’t safe on the roads; not even on the streets outside their house.
One more incident of molestation, one more blood-boiling statement blaming the victim’s western attire for the offensive act. I don’t know which is worse – the indecent act or the disgusting statement. As though Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara’s victim-blaming was not enough, Samajwadi party leader Abu Azmi too believes that women who don’t obey the rules of ‘Indian culture’ (i.e. wear short skirts) will face such attacks.
Damn! Does groping and molesting women conform to the Indian culture? Not a word on how men are expected to behave.
First it was Delhi and now it is Bengaluru which have brought shame to India. It is spreading like some kind of contagious disease. I can’t say if the crime against women is actually increasing in number or whether more incidents now come to light.
25 years ago when during exams I used to study at night until the wee hours, in between cramming the boring lessons, it was a common practice for the students to take short breaks by having a quick stroll on the street. In the April heat, we looked forward to stepping out of the house even for just a while to soak in some cool breeze. A ten minute walk in the quiet of the night was refreshing enough to glue me back to my books for another couple of hours. The street opposite our house in Sector 22 in Chandigarh was dimly lit as some of the bulbs would always be fused and I clearly remember in the dead of the night, dressed in my night clothes, I used to be the only one on the road engrossed in my thoughts, marching from one end to another, while my parents slept inside peacefully.
On those days, it was a ritual in summers for most families to have an after dinner stroll on the street. People indulged in the simple joy of walking on the roads. ‘Those days’ were just 25 years ago but it feels like another era, a different world altogether when women felt safe on the roads. When I narrate the stories of ‘our times’ to my sons, they ask me, eyebrows raised in awe, “You used to go for walks alone? On the road? At midnight?”
Fast forward to the present time. After dinner strolls at night – alone or with a companion are unheard of for the fear of not only molesters but also of stray dogs, chain snatchers and thugs.
Nowhere are there statements from ministers or anyone in power that we need to put a leash on perverts. Punish the criminal and not the victim. Every time such an incident happens, men with a misogynist mentality give disgusting statements and further shame the country.
Are we saying that it’s okay to molest a woman? There are also no statements demanding better law and order, or more stringent laws which could deter men. There are only statements on how women should dress up, how they shouldn’t venture out alone at night.
While the media goes all out while reporting such incidents, when the culprits get caught too, the media need to follow up, and report with the same fervour about the punishment meted out to them, publish their photographs to let public know about those men who shame their entire gender.
Are women public property that they can be groped at anyone’s free will? Do they need to be dictated on how to dress up, do they need to be told where to go and at what time to go? Disgraceful! Unacceptable!
It’s time to get it straight, it’s time to fight it out.
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Top image credits Wikipedia