On New Year’s Eve, a whole crowd of girls were molested in the middle of the street in Bangalore.. In the middle of the street. A whole freaking crowd. The battalions of police officers being there made little to no difference.
As a 19 year old Indian girl, I know by now that India isn’t always entirely safe for women, but the part which saddens me most is the reaction which followed.
We have video evidence girls getting molested and yet not a single complaint was filed.You find that shocking? The police and the politicians claim these things happen during new year celebrations and it did, even last year.
The immediate response to this was the obvious condemning of girls being out late at night and the influence of “western culture”.Oh,and the viral hashtag #NotAllMen. We can blame the police or the politicians but what has to change is the attitude.
Let’s start small. The attitude of a common man watching this news on tv. I sat watching the Times Now debate about their #FightThePerverts petition when my dad calmly says “What other kind of guys do you expect at 12 in the night?” The argument which ensued was an old and exasperating one which has attained a ritualistic position in my house. It is evoked whenever feminism or gender rights is discussed and it always ends with neither of us conceding to the other.
My dad is the typical Indian man who expects only drunkards to roam at night. He is the kind of guy who thinks a girl is asking for trouble if she goes out at night.Yes, he is the kind of guy, all we feminists hate. He genuinely believes its common sense for girls to stay at home. Its almost sad to see how strongly and blindly he believes it. If you’re the one getting hurt, it becomes your responsibility to stay safe. I don’t expect a father to think any differently.
Molesting or raping a woman has become such common news that we have almost forgotten its impact on the victim’s life. Its a frightening feeling to have your personal space violated without your permission.
“There was not a single face you could make out or who was doing it. As soon as you turned you would be groped or grabbed. There were so many people there that you could not pinpoint who was doing it.
I felt helpless. Although I have hands and legs and I could abuse and slap them, I could not do anything. I didn’t know who was touching me and groping me.”
Things haven’t changed much since the Nirbhaya Incident in 2012. The attitude is so deeply hardwired that we can’t unlearn it, nor are we trying to. Any talk regarding this is shut down saying feminazis are a bunch of emotional over-reacting women. We have grown used to expecting women to be more careful and expecting men to act like animals. A convention that is gradually passed on over generations.
I remember when I was 15, I thought my parents were being over cautious for not sending me out late at night. I was a strong, ambitious girl. I imagined that, once I started working and living alone, I could stay as late as I wanted. In a month I turn 20, and my parents’ rules make a lot more sense now. Its scary that they make sense.
The way I comprehend these incidents now and 5 years ago are very different. As an adult woman, these seem extra real to me. An insight into the world I’m going to walk into and its sad that I don’t have the excitement or the hopefulness I once had. I still look forward to living alone but the tiny voice at the back of my head is going to ruin it.