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Living alone is a very difficult decision to take for single women even if they earn well enough to do so, because they’re afraid – as the author discovered recently.
My cousin sister was killed. In her own house.
It was a robbery gone wrong. Just for one night, she felt she was too tired to close the balcony doors of her first-floor apartment. In his words, the murderer described how he just wanted to steal some jewellery and money. My sister accidentally woke up and saw him. She said she wouldn’t tell anyone and asked him to leave, but he panicked and stabbed her.
Her body was discovered by her 6-year-old daughter in the morning who couldn’t understand why Mumma wouldn’t wake up, the neighbours said. My brother-in-law lived and worked in Saudi.
She was murdered in her own house because she was too tired to latch the door of the first floor balcony of her two-bedroom apartment in a posh locality of a metropolitan city.
At 30 years of age, I live with my parents and an older brother. I have experienced living alone when I was away in college, but living alone, really, is different. While I tell everyone and myself that I stay at home to take care of my parents, I wonder if It is the care or the fear that keeps me here.
The fear of being murdered in my own house.
The fear of being raped in my own house.
The fear of being brutalised in my own house.
Do all women feel this way? Do any men feel this way? Who else has “The Fear”?
I know I do.
Every other day, there are articles of delivery boys and watchmen and plumbers and jilted ex-boyfriends breaking into a single woman’s house and brutalising her. Torturing and raping and murdering her. And the worst part? The woman is blamed for living alone.
“Why didn’t she stay with roommates?”, they ask. “She should have been married and living with her husband”, they say. “Why not live with parents if she wasn’t planning to marry?” they insinuate.
The woman is the cause of all brutalities against her.
Her short clothes, her occupation, her marital status, her sexual preference, the colour of her hair, the colour of her skin, how tall she is, how much she weighs, THE FACT THAT SHE BREATHES. She causes it.
I earn more than enough to live alone. But every time I plan to, I can’t help but question myself, if I’m prepared to. The preparation isn’t just the psychological strength to part ways with my parents.
It is the psychological strength to know that I can be raped and brutalised at any point in my own house, IF I live alone.
It is the strength to strategically place sharp objects and weapons around the house in anticipation of an attack.
It is the strength to join self-defense classes for a year before I plan to move into a house on my own.
It is the strength to know that at any given point of my living alone, my house could be broken into by one or several men.
And if I’m lucky, the only thing I would lose is my life.
India, in recent times, has become one of the fastest progressing economies of the world. We are advancing in all fields, including and not limited to, economy, science, education and whatever possible fields there are left to conquer. The team that sent India’s probe to Mars was a crazy band of female scientists. Some of the leading banks in the country are headed by women. I, myself, work at a prestigious organisation at a respectable position. And yet, no one will call my fear of being raped as irrational. We know there is a 50% chance I will be raped some time in my life.
I read articles and reports about war-stricken countries and regions, and often times try to imagine what their lives must be like. They can’t go to school, go to work, go out drinking, have parties, wear what they want, or live a simple life.
And then I look at my life and think, is my life any better?
I can’t live where I want, I can’t live how I want, I can’t wear what I want and I can’t do what I want. Because if I do, any troubles that follow will be blamed onto my womanhood instead of the psychosis of the perpetrator. There are women out there who are living alone and traveling alone and being on their own. But I can confidently state for ALL women anywhere and everywhere in the world that we all have the fear. Some choose to live despite it, others simply live with it. But we all most certainly have it.
So, if I live in constant fear of being attacked, am I really free? Will I ever be?
#MeToo was a great beginning but it has awakened the Kraken it seems. Crimes against women have become more aggressive and violent in nature. As if taunting us. Telling us those tweets and stories did nothing to deter them, only angered them some more. Armed them with the one thing they never had in the past, the victim card.
They are the victims now, facing emotional, mental and physical abuse. “She asked for it”. We gave them the golden pass. “She deserved it”. We have made them stronger.
I am in no way saying my gender comprises halo wearing angels sent from above. We have our faults too. But no one deserves to live their life in constant fear.
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” ~ Margaret Atwood
Image source: shutterstock
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