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When this family wanted to take their car out after 10.30 pm to get post surgery meds for their daughter, neighbours abused them and their 2 daughters who are 30+ years old.
The second wave of the pandemic has been overwhelming. Tragic as it is, we also see people across the country rallying together, using social media to help each other. But these stories of hope, strength, and humanity are not all there is to the internet; there are hurtful and abusive stuff ordinary people do too.
In Santa Cruz, Mumbai, the parents of two women stepped out at night to get medicines that their younger daughter, who had recently undergone surgery, urgently needed. They live in a residential complex and had asked one of their neighbours to move their cars from the shared parking space.
Their appalling reaction to the request has confounded and angered the online space after the elder daughter, Apeksha Maker, shared the video on Instagram on 6th of May.
When the neighbours started yelling and abusing the family, Apeksha decided to record the mayhem on video.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Apeksha Maker (@amaker7)
A post shared by Apeksha Maker (@amaker7)
The video starts with a man, the neighbour in question, saying that he wouldn’t move his car after 10 p.m., despite the parents explaining why they had to drive out at night. He goes on to call the two sisters, ‘psycho girls’. He then comes to the astute conclusion that this is why the two girls are unmarried. “They must be frustrated because of that,” he decides.
And all this while his family is breaking basic pandemic protocol- they aren’t properly wearing their masks, and aren’t social distancing.
The man incessantly points out that the two women are unmarried and uses their ages to highlight just how ‘absurd’ their marital status is. He then decides to gather forces and calls his family out. “Let’s create a scene today”, he says, while Mumbai registers a 35% rise in COVID cases and 20% rise in deaths within a 24-hour period.
More people come yelling in support of the man, including a young boy and an elderly woman The boy laughs and calls the two sisters “useless” while the man and the elderly woman proudly announce that even if there is a medical emergency, they will not move their cars. The video ends with the neighbours calling the police.
In our country, it is understood that there is a ‘certain timeframe’ within which women are expected to get married. So normalised is this assumption that many find it jarring to see women past their 20s unmarried.
The comments the neighbour made reveal just how important the role of the wife is to the traditional and acceptable concept of a woman. All the assumed problems of her family must be the reason why she is unmarried, and therefore, abnormal. Thus, to mock women for being unmarried seems to be the perfect rebuttal in an argument.
So many other words are striking in this video. The value systems in India all stress on the wisdom of the elders, but then you see adult men and women harshly defy everything we may expect people to do in a shared crisis. They refused to show any empathy for their neighbours and encouraged the watching children to join in. Are we expected to blindly follow along to what we see or hear?
People often talk about the Internet as symbolic of the ‘loss’ of traditional values. That in the past, everyone cared only about the community, and apparently “social media has made the youth selfish, self-serving and individualistic.” And yet here you have social media platforms being used to mobilise resources, while elders take offence to a request for cooperation during a pandemic.
If our traditions expect us to shame women for being unmarried at every opportunity, are we really losing out then?
We’ve been talking about how it seems like the world has stopped since 2020, and it may have in some ways. But sexism, entitlement and disregard for others are all elements that are still alive and kicking.
Instances like these all point to the importance of not banking on our assumptions and stereotypes. Wisdom is not the monopoly of the elderly, humanity is not ensured by tradition, and women are more than their relations to men.
This incident was shared with us with activist and social media influencer Rosh93. Thank you.
Image Source: a still from the film Pati Patni Aur Woh
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