Guest post by @GalenesBombayia / Shilpa. She talks about a completely different perspective of a girl on the recent Delhi Rape case and crimes against women.
While the Nation mourns to the heinous act of mankind which engulfed a woman of twenty-three and her male friend brutally on an evening like any other in India’s capital, Delhi, I have come face to face upon a path which slowly eats me from within as I attempt to understand the issue of rising crimes against women with my non-Delhite friends and elders alike.
Having arrived to India five years ago from an entirely different environment back in the West where I practically spend my entire life, I was certainly in for a rude shock. It is not that I did not know that there is the so called innocent “eve-teasing” and minute groping which I should learn to adjust with if I plan to avoid any trouble for me and my family, though what did alarm me was the attitude towards it all. If I am seen wearing anything above my knees by my neighbourhood men then I am apparently inviting it. My father calls it keeping the “undesired attention” under wraps.
I come from a fairly liberal middle class family who had never lifted a brow on as to what I wear, the men I hang out with and what time I came home, back abroad. So when one by one every right or rather preference was snatched away I struggled. Struggled with my parents and their sudden conservative outlook towards life and me. Days would go in absolute furry and cold silence between me and them. When I threw tantrums as to why can I not wear my micro shorts as the terrible Delhi weather demands it and some girls do, my father would say, “I don’t have a chauffeur and you take the public transport”, whereas, before my mother could utter a word my grandmother would echo her exceptionally irksome statement on the fact that such girls do not come from good families and each time I clenched my teeth and walked away for the sake of harmony in the family as all Indian mothers I guess teach you to do. However, I demand to know what does clothes, language and preferences be it of any sphere have to do with one’s character as long as they are not creating a hindrance in maintaining decorum to a place, basically implying that a bikini is apt on a beach while in a conference it seems not. The activities in a particular arena of one’s life should not have a negative implication on another.
Yet, as I fought endlessly with those around me and myself, I could slowly see myself losing the battle; kurtis, jeans and duppata replaced the dresses, shorts and tank tops. As time passed I came to register the fact that if I want to remain away from terrible consequences which may shatter my well-being I should simply alter my dress code. Time constraints and giving an hourly update of my location was nothing unnatural anymore for a girl who earlier knew no bounds. The regular rape cases made me realize that perhaps my parents were right after all. So when Barkha Dutt tweeted on Twitter after the gang rape occurred in the cities busiest places, “If you curb your daughter’s life from fear, you let the rapists win. So set her free. And let her fight. And demand safer cities.” it certainly strung a bitter cord which had a larger resonance than all those favs that the tweet got. After all who would know better than a woman who in her bloom fought with herself and her family to reclaim her mere right to assert her preferences like so many others.
The concepts of freedom, freewill and equality which were inherent in my very being took a back seat when I embraced silence for my parent’s convenience. Till safety laws and policies only do lip-service who would want to stand up to fight for the cause which is sooner or later forgotten amidst the rat race which each finds themselves in? When the government and its law makers are critical victims of the post-facto system, who would have the courage to divert from their guardian’s words which remind you time and again to learn from other’s mistakes?
All the current sentiments and expressions of unjust treatment are understandable. Yet, how does one explain to a Mumbaikar whose day starts at two in the night that while the police there has a strong hold on its subjects, here they are unfortunately a mocked lot. With all due respect to the victim I do wonder that perhaps had she been a bit more careful as to not board a tinted bus which was not even running on route that day then today her fate may have been somewhat different. Perhaps had she observed that all the passengers were men and appeared mischievous in one way or the other then the indomitable spirit the victim has displayed while battling for her life need not have been even called for.
In no context is the victim to be blamed for what transpired on that unfortunate evening. Though, a being without power like millions in the country does question themselves as to why did the victim have to commit the “mistake” of being unaware of her circumstances for even once as when our so called protectors cannot guarantee our safety then she should have understood that it’s in her own hands to do so.