Instagram Or IRL, Safety For Women Is Still A Distant Dream!

Several incidents of violence against women reveal the terrifying lack of safe, and private, space for them in India.

A recent tweet by journalist Ranjona Banerji, “It’s not freedom if the government tells you how to celebrate it.” is quite evocative, and at the same time, hard-hitting. It draws direct parallels to the way our society is slowly turning into. Wouldn’t it be quite appropriate if we echo a famous Bollywood celebrity who voiced his concerns over the intolerance of his fellow Indians?

He did (and is still facing) face a lot of backlash for his comments. However, is there any chance of denying his claims? Unfortunately, no. 

And this gets quite well reflected in one of the recent items of news trending about a defamation case of 99 crores that has been filed against a former assistant professor at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. 

It was her Instagram stories (something that disappears, or remains unavailable after 24 hours of posting the same) that brought her into the limelight; soon turned into a quagmire that she would surely take a lot of time and effort to come out from. 

When the fine line between private and public was overlooked

The anonymous professor had posted some of her personal photographs on the Instagram which led to this; one of the student’s father questioned her morality, and her sense of responsibility behind this. And as expected, the college authorities paid heed to this without even understanding that the said person’s Instagram account is private, and not open for public consumption.

Now, this questions one’s privacy and one’s freedom to lead a life that they would prefer. 

Being a female teacher doesn’t necessarily mean that she has to be the flag bearer of morality and accountability all the time; and posting her private moments on her private account is as basic as any other right. But this becomes quite debatable. 

The former assistant professor wishes to remain anonymous, fearing a threat to her security. She claims that she wasn’t dealt with empathy, rather she was given two options – either to resign, or get terminated. The college authorities did not take the initiative to listen to her side of the story, but kept exhibiting signs of protecting some unknown persons for some unknown purpose!

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In a country like ours where entitlement is superior to eligibility, this attitude is no longer surprising. But what remains shocking is how someone’s personal life can be made a subject to be discussed in public. The former assistant professor goes on to explain how her online photographs were used as hard copies during their discussions, and how she was constantly made to feel that her behaviour is detrimental to the well-being of her students. 

The Vishakha guidelines laid down by the supreme court in the year 1997 were not referred to. The concept of sexual harassment at work was completely twisted to make it look like a heinous offence from her end. And even though her photographs were uploaded before she was recruited went unheeded.

Who to love, who to trust?

When we were already battling this issue, the recent killing of Shraddha Walkar, by her beau and live-in partner Aftab Poonawala, has sent shivers down the spine. Her apparent protector became her perpetrator. This recent piece of news has stirred the nation, making us question a woman’s safety even within the four walls of her home.

A victim of constant domestic abuse, Shraddha had shared her plight with her colleagues, who now can only lament her loss; while Abbas has gained the status of a celebrity overnight within the confines of the prison in spite of committing such a heinous crime.

His anger towards Shraddha is extremely scary because he not only killed her but hacked her to 35 pieces. While her body parts remained in their washroom, he had the audacity of bringing home other women every day and spending them satiating his clandestine desires.

What if these women too faced the same fate as Shraddha?

Who knows! A cold-blooded murderer like Aftab Poonawala can go to any extreme to fulfill their ulterior motives.

Overall, both these incidents leave an uncanny feeling about the status of women in India. The rules that were conceived for their safety and protection are inaccessible most of the time.

Where would they go?

Who should they approach?

These questions will keep haunting us for a long time now, and we too would keep fighting for our basic rights- just like the former assistant professor and her family back in Kolkata besides lamenting Shraddha’s untimely demise while another Aftab Poonawala heads towards another heinous crime against some woman in some part of the country.

Pic credits: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels 

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