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How Shaming Young Women For Their Sexual Choices Can Put Them In Very Real Danger

In a society that calls relationships by the name 'affairs', the stigma could be too much for a woman who'd rather face the violence, putting her at danger.

In a society that calls relationships by the name ‘affairs’, the stigma could be too much for a woman who’d rather face the violence, putting her at danger.

In a span of two weeks after bagging the job at Fleet Airlines, sparks had begun to fly between Rohan and Neha. Since both of them were getting acquainted to the new challenges of their new job, they could each relate to the stress that the other one was feeling.

The early twenties in one’s life (of perhaps the generation of people who were born in the 1980s) were such that every second crush that you had on someone was such an immense form of infatuation; that it felt as though it was love.

A place to be intimate

Things began to pace up in their relationship since they spent most of time together during the training period of their new job. They graduated soon from ogling at each other and holding hands to kisses and cuddling!

Looking for a space for intimacy was a very difficult task for those young almost two decades ago. One had to wait for a friend’s vacant house at times. At some other times, you would risk grabbing that opportunity when it came to your own place.

Neha invited Rohan to her place one such opportune day, when her family were all away.

While they immediately pounced upon each other after a couple of kisses and hickeys, Neha wasn’t really looking forward to venturing any further than that. Rohan however was at the peak of his imagination and headed straight for the kill.

He moved too fast for her, but…

When Neha made it clear than she did not want to go any further, he went ballistic and moved away from here. He almost yelled, “Why did you call me here if you wanted to act like this snob?”

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Neha rushed towards him and placed her palm on his mouth, “Shhh! Don’t scream, my neighbors will hear us.”

Rohan got further aggravated upon hearing this and moved towards the door to open it, “Do I care? Why did you call me home at all? Let everyone listen and know what a wimp you are!” He correctly hoped that creating a scene could get him where he wanted to get with Neha.

Neha was almost in tears and held his hand in a tight grip, pleading with him to not create a scene, and that she was sorry. Rohan however behaved in the most absurd way and after Neha’s bawling at his feet about how sorry she was – he walked out of the house making Neha feel guilty about the whole episode.

This is a real incident

This is not a story. It happened to someone I know. When Neha narrated the entire story to me, I was as infuriated as you may be now while listening to this kind of behaviour displayed by Rohan.

Yes, Neha made a wrong choice, and trusted someone who did not consider her consent important. Rohan and people like him are the last people you ever want to get even acquainted with!

But why did Neha not slap him? Why did she not call for help when he almost tried to molest her physically and then emotionally? Why did she have to beg or plead for Rohan to not create a scene?

It’s because of a society that blames a woman first

The answer lies in our prejudices about ‘relationships’ that are called ‘affairs’ by a patriarchal society, and have a stigma associated with them. While the times have progressed since then; a ‘live-in’ relationship is still looked at by a specific part of our society as ‘sinful’.

Neha did not raise her voice because she had invited Rohan over in the absence of her family members. To her, according to her upbringing – what she had done was unacceptable to the society.

When I think about this incident that happened with Neha – perhaps more than a decade ago – I ask myself, “What would have happened had her family got to know about it? Well, at the most Neha would have had to bear the brunt of a tight slap across her face by her parents and a few days of taunts about her behavior. Wasn’t that anytime better than tolerating a pervert get away with this kind of fear?”

Fear of stigma makes women give in to sexual violence

It makes me shudder to think how many girls may have let something even worse happen to them under the fear of being exposed to such so-called ‘taint’.

The least we could do, is to bring up the daughters of our generation in a way that they choose their self-respect over the hollowness of the ‘disgrace’ associated with any such incident. It’s okay to have a boyfriend – if as an educated parent – you prefer your daughter’s life over ‘log kya kahenge‘!

Image source: a still from the film Manmarziyaan

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About the Author

Sneha Acharekar

Sneha Acharekar is the author of 'Let Go Yet Glow' (2014), 'Faith, Fate and a Fairytale' (2017) and 'Purple Winters' (2020). She hosts her own podcast 'Stories by Sneha' on all major podcasting channels and read more...

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