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Young girls often face their first experience of street harassment even before they can understand what is happening to them.
Young girls often face their first experience of street harassment even before they can understand what is happening to them. Sadly, almost every Indian girl has one such memory.
#AskingForIt is an initiative by Breakthrough to mobilize communities and get every individual, both online and in the ‘real world’, to speak out and not treat sexual harassment as ‘normal’. The Women’s Web #AskingForIt blogathon asks our readers to share their experiences, suggestions and resources on the topic of street sexual harassment in India and countering it.
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Almost two decades ago, I was about 11 or 12 and for no apparent reason averse to Holi. Although I lived in the pristine Shimla of the eighties and did enjoy playing in snow every winter with friends of both genders, Holi never inspired me enough.
It was Holi again and I was locked in my room all day. All the neighborhood girls did the same; only boys did venture out to throw coloured water balloons and shout, Bura na mano, Holi hai! (Don’t mind, it’s Holi!)
As is still the norm in most places, by evening the colour games had halted and most families had settled down to spend a holiday evening together. Every evening, I used to walk about a 100 meters from my house to fetch milk for the next morning and because every thing looked sober now, I walked to the booth as usual.
On my way back, about 50 meters away from my house, in the narrow galli, this man who ran a paan-bidi shop in the neighborhood sprang out suddenly from a corner, looking every bit inebriated. I stepped back to give him way, but when he was about an arms length away from me he suddenly took out a handful of gulaal from his pocket and just because he was a couple of feet taller than me, rubbed it in my hair very harshly shouting, Happy Holi.
I dropped the milk packets and ran home. Mom kept asking me what happened and when I couldn’t say what exactly had happened, she presumed that some friend from the neighbourhood had played a prank.
After that day, my evening stroll did not happen for many years till I was older, stronger and probably more mature to handle a similar situation, if need be.
I told mom what exactly had happened only a couple of days later and she did take it up with that man only to get a denial from him, that he never remembered doing any of that.
Many years later, I realized that was my first brush with crude public harassment. Maybe it could have happened to anyone who is physically weaker in any given situation, but when you are a woman in India numerous incidents of the same nature make you conclude that maybe it happens more to girls and women and especially on festivals like Holi.
The trauma of such incidents does not go away easily and I now realize that keeping women indoors and ‘safe’ is no solution. Why have we become so twisted that a festival has to be loud, noisy, drunk and ostentatious to be celebrated?
Whether it is Holi or whatever, do not adopt the argument that all is good in the name of a festival.
This post was first published at the author’s blog
Hands against bars image via Shutterstock
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).