One of our Indian leaders recently mentioned that ‘Nari Shakti’ (Women Power) will play a vital role in fulfilling the dream of a bigger and stronger India. I cannot agree more. “I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.”, as said by B.R Ambedkar. This single yardstick will reveal where the society is, and where it is heading.
It is wonderful to hear about Nari Shakti being taken seriously as a way to contribute to a better India, and this rekindles hope for many women. However, I believe this is a far-fetched scenario. On the same day when the leader made this speech, in another part of the nation, rapists were set free, hailed and garlanded. 20 years ago, these men gangraped a 5-month pregnant woman and killed her 3-year-old daughter!
In another incident, a man killed a woman in Jharkhand by burning her face because she said no to his proposal. Imagine that man’s inflated sense of entitlement and his inability to digest a rejection! Imagine a teenage girl who doesn’t have a right to say no to someone without fearing retaliation.
What message are we sending out to the girls and women of our society? That men are entitled to decide your ‘punishment’ (for being women) and execute it as per their whims and fancies? These people have some skewed sense of justice almost akin to the extremists.
I used to believe that in a country with better education and opportunities than its oppressive neighbour, women here are safer and better-off. But these incidents force me to reconsider that belief. The extremists are far closer than before… as the mirror says Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.
Why are we so hypocritical as a society? On one hand we hail our women as goddesses and harbingers of prosperity and positive change; on the other hand, we rape them, subjugate them and hail their violators as heroes. How is this even fair?
How is it fair that a court can rule about a sexual harassment charge not holding true, if a woman is wearing a provocative dress. With all due respect to the judiciary, will someone explain the definition of ‘provocative dressing’? With this new loophole of ‘provocative dress’ being created, we have jeopardized the safety of so many more women. Doesn’t this action pave way for such loopholes to be exploited and more perpetrators let off with little or no punishment? Instead of the accused being made to plead guilty, this puts the onus back on the victim to prove her innocence – about her dress being the reason for her assault. It is like saying men will be men, they will harass. You shall not provoke them into misbehaving!’
Instead of the accused being made to plead guilty, this puts the onus back on the victim to prove her innocence
I have many questions that I want society to answer:
- From home to office, from cradle to the grave, women work hard everywhere. They contribute as much to the country’s economy as any other gender. So why is it that women’s safety and security issues are dealt with such callousness?
As women, we want to see safety and security issues dealt with more strictness and seriousness. Women work hard as anyone else, so we at least deserve some fair chance to prove our worth and to earn a respectful living. We shouldn’t have to trade between bread-winning and our Life.
- If you acknowledge that women can participate in a nation’s growth in a big way, how then can you still be misogynist enough to make such remarks. Am I to understand that, as a woman, I am expected to earn money for the nation, pay my taxes to build my nation stronger, while no one bothers if I am at least safe?
From home to office, from cradle to the grave, women work hard everywhere.
How many more Banos, Ankitas, and Nirbhayas do we need to finally wake up to the need of strict punishments as deterrents? We need to know that our perpetrators will be punished harshly. The perpetrators need to know there will be serious consequences of their actions. It is only then, women will be able to contribute to a nation’s success with at least one less thing to worry about!
- Why are men of our society so desperately failing at accepting rejection?
There is probably something in our social seasoning that makes them feel invincible about themselves. That they cannot and should not be defeated… or rejected. We need to rethink and introspect what we tell our little boys about themselves and about their feminine counterparts. We need to ‘catch ‘em young’ and sensitise them about rules, law, respect for others and most important about accepting rejection. We need to stop dehumanising them by saying ‘Boys don’t cry’, ‘Girls are weak,’ ‘Mard ko dard nahi hota,’ and instead teach them to accept their own vulnerability as a human. Probably this sets the tone in them for being more accepting of themselves and others and make them more compassionate.
We need to rethink and introspect what we tell our little boys about themselves and about their feminine counterparts.
- And most importantly: Why is rape a woman’s problem?
I am pretty sure that when a woman suffers, everyone connected to her also goes through the pain, including the men. A survivor’s father, brother, husband or son… all go through the pain. So, rape cannot be a woman’s problem alone. It is society’s problem and needs to be dealt with by both men and women that make up the society. We cannot allow some inconsiderate and insensitive people to make statements like ‘Such things do happen’, ‘this happens everywhere’. Let us stop normalizing sexual assault no matter how trivial it is. So, next time you see a young man catcalling, stop him right there.
The changes that we need are way bigger in magnitude than the reforms we are mulling over. Yet we cannot discount the importance of smaller steps in the right direction. And this is probably what our great leader meant when he said “I have one request for every Indian. Can we change our mentality towards our women in everyday life?”