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#FreedomIs Walking Free

Posted: August 24, 2014

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The simple act of walking on the streets reminds us that we are not truly free. Here’s a take on the freedom to walk.

The #FreedomIs campaign asked readers to share their idea of what freedom is, and what freedoms they wanted, through a selfie with a message. The results were varied and beautiful. You can see the collection of #FreedomIs selfies here. Don’t forget to send in your own!

I am a big believer in  freedom – all kinds of freedom. It can be to eat, drink, dress, to choose your lifestyle, partner, religion etc, The list is endless. If it makes you happy, you do it! It is freedom for you. Live and let live. I was shaken from this so called freedom of mine when I discovered that like so many other things in our country, this freedom too, is misleading.

I was walking on the posh walking plaza near my house last week. I do it occasionally; I am not a regular walker and that is my freedom – to walk whenever I want to, at whatever time I want to, and whereever I want to.

I am on the verge of 40 and nowhere close to the “Yummy Mummy” that the media wants us mummies to become. While I am out for my walk, I am the opposite – overweight, unruly hair, sweaty, and maybe just about pretty average to look at. As I tried to get into the rhythm of my walk, hoping to shed my lethargy and a couple of kilos with my brisk walkimg, I realised a few truths

  • That even though I was in a so-called ‘posh area’ of my neighbourhood, the mentality of the men I crossed was in  the gutters. There was no dearth of men who wanted to make eye contact or to check me out. My earphones and lip syncing to the music did not stop them from commenting within earshot.
  • Right next to an intersection, under the noses of the policemen deputed there, a tractor driver ogled at me for at least 30 seconds. Instead of watching the road, he was watching me while driving through the road to the other side. He thought he could get away with those roving eyes, and gave a smirk to convey that he can do it because he can!
  • Anywhere and everywhere is a place for men to tease and ogle women. This freedom from repercussions has made them fearless and egotistical.

You go the hospital, an orderly or clerk will accost you in a corner. You go to the mall, the watchman will act funny. The lift man tries to be too friendly. The place could be an office, school, market, tailor-shop, swimming pool (god forbid it is a public pool), ration shop, movie hall, a bus or train, or the endless places where a lady might need to go.

Where is the freedom if I cannot walk freely in my own neighbourhood? Where is the freedom if I fear abuse and rape at every step I take? Where is the freedom if I cannot dress as I please? Where is the freedom if men cannot respect our choices?

For me, #FreedomIs walking free.

Pic credit: HowardIgnatius (Used under a CC license)

Freelance Fiction and non-fiction editor, author and book bee. Also a blogger and a

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