The Breakthrough Voice 23rd September, 2014

Restrictions on Women to Move Around.

As a young male activist of human rights in Haryana, I have found the state to be extremely patriarchal and violent to its women. In spite of being a known leader in agriculture and being a rich state, Haryana has lagged behind in social change which has been reflected in various forms in the last two decades declining child sex ratio, honor killing, domestic violence, bride buying and number of fatwa’s ( a statement issued by the religious/community based bodies and kangaroo courts).

Women, less in numbers already, are sent to the background with no freedom to get out of the house either for education or for earning their own living, in the name of protect and their safety and security. A few statements that I have been hearing since I was a child, have been ridden with the thought of the public domain is not for women and girls.
The moment a woman steps out even for supporting her own family she is labeled characterless, the neighbors are convinced that ‘woh toh bigad gayi hai’, is she starts working for the betterment of life or to fulfill the basic needs of her own and her family’s, people start blaming them saying ‘iska to paanv bahar nikal gaya hai’.

In case of deciding to study further in a college or university, our society gets uncomfortable and pressurizing parents to stop her studies saying ‘jyada mat padao bigad jayegi’ with a fear that she would elope with someone. If at all a woman dares dress up well she gets to hear to no limit about how she has become fashionable and these are tricks to attract attention.

Even if women dare to venture into the public spaces, they face sexual harassment by men on a regular basis, verbal comments, touching and groping and even the non-verbal innuendoes such as staring and touching their own sexual organs which can make the women highly uncomfortable. These men and boys do not even realize how uncomfortable this can make a girl or a woman, the insecurities and stress levels of women are high and they actually try to avoid places where they regularly find men and boys following them.

Even if they gather the courage to communicate this harassment to their own families, in order to protect their daughter’s family members start restricting their mobility, thus penalizing the women further. By restricting our female family members we are not protecting them but are shielding the handful of men and boys who do not know how to deal with women in the public spaces and know that they can get away with sexually abusing them. Instead of restricting the mobility of the women we need more and more women out in the public spaces so not just the women but all of us start feeling safe on the streets.

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