The death of a 23-year-old girl in New Delhi and the massive protests around it have raised several questions about the safety of women in the country
The end of 2012 has seen the capital of our country in total chaos, given the gruesome gang rape that shook the country. I cannot help but ponder upon a few interestingly strange ideas which do not fail to intrigue or rather, startle me.
Belonging to the world’s largest democracy is certainly a great feeling, but being a woman in this country does not evoke the same feeling. As I am not an avid newspaper reader, I am glad that I can save myself from the horror of reading about the dark realities of our society. Sexual harassment, assault, rape and murder are terms that most of us are aware of, but these issues are not discussed openly. It’s something most of us are told to deal with or better yet, avoid.
Ah yes, avoidance is the key! In a country like India which boasts of a staggering billion plus population, is it not strange that only women are taught or rather asked to acquaint themselves with the concept of avoidance. This is propagated by the government, and even by one’s own family and friends. Women are told, “Cultured women hailing from good families should learn how to dress, interact, and at what time they step out and get back home. Or else, they are asking for trouble. As a woman, you need to avoid difficult situations and difficult people.”
Oh yes, why not? It’s better to let the rapists and the wrong-doers go scot-free and preach about how a woman should implement and inculcate the concept of avoidance, although it’s crystal clear that a crime committed is NO fault of hers — whatever be the time of the day or the place or what she’s wearing, right? Oh, how very democratic of us!
For a change, why can’t a man be taught that his manliness lies in the manner in which he treats the women around him?
The social media is a powerful tool, and more so, in cases where the youth are enraged. From sharing women helpline numbers, protests, and walks, everyone, I agree, is doing his bit. But would that suffice? Will it make up to even a minuscule of what brutality an innocent victim went through? Do women who are capable of leading independent lives deserve this? The answer is NO.
Freedom of existence has to be a right, not a luxury. If there needs to be a change, it must begin with a change in the thinking, for, the fault lies in the manner in which one thinks about a woman and not in what she chooses to wear. Moreover, what the women need isn’t empowerment or sympathy, anymore. Irrespective of a woman’s age or social standing, she should be given the power to command respect and get it.
Act now. Respecting a gender that’s responsible for the very existence of humanity is, perhaps, just being human.
(The author Pooja Prabhan, is pursuing undergraduation in Journalism, Psychology and English Literature at Sri Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain College, J.C. Road, Bangalore, Originally Posted in The Hindu)