I first came across the Arabic word ‘Taharrush’ after reading reports of women being sexually assaulted by mobs in Germany early last year. Taharrush is a ‘game’ where men gather together to ‘play’ with women. Cowardly men find strength and cover in large groups where no single person can be identified and held accountable and then proceed to molest and rape women. It sent shivers down my spine as I had read about several reports of mobs getting together to molest and disrobe women right here in India. I don’t know how many of you remember the incidents in Assam and Patna from two years ago. But after a while I put all that behind me and moved on… just like a news cycle. And then it happened again… in namma Bengaluru!
Bengaluru has been an international metropolis for so long that you presume things like this can never happen in such a modern and cosmopolitan city. Even though Sri Ram Sene activists thrashed women at a pub in Mangalore next door, one could never imagine a ‘mass molestation’ in Bangalore! And that’s when I began to wonder… what if it’s my mental block that prevented me from believing that something like this could not happen in a city of educated, English speaking people. The ‘rape culture’ born out of centuries of patriarchy isn’t limited to Bharat. It is also prevalent in India. After all, Bharat and India are not really that different.
Dear Ladies, Do Loiter
If we can change one thing in both rural and urban areas, we should encourage our women to reclaim public spaces. We have to get rid of the “par wahan jaane ki zaroorat kya hai” mentality? Do we ask men why they are present in any public place? Do we ask them to explain what they are doing or why they are standing in a particular spot? Then why is it that whenever a woman is made to feel uncomfortable in even the most innocuous of spaces like the bus stop, or the foot path, we ask her, “tum wahan kar kya rahi thi?” Can’t a woman just stand and breathe? Can’t she just soak in some sunshine and enjoy the breeze? Why do we still expect our women to have a ‘good reason’ for stepping outdoors?
I’m a huge supporter of the “Why Loiter” movement. In fact, I think women should just spontaneously gather at public spaces and do what men do… absolutely nothing at all! Let girls just loiter… do mattergasti or time-pass! Because… why the hell not?! Let’s loiter, dear ladies!
Shutting public places never helps. Confining women to boundaries is detrimental to the nation’s growth. This incident happened in a public place bustling with energy. But let’s also remember, lonely places are most prone to incidences of theft and assault. I am all in for a noiseless, 24x7 sleepless city culture. With hawking zones open all through the night. Which would mean, rickshaws and taxis would be plying and women and transpersons will find it safer to travel and seek support in times of crisis.
End the ‘Typical’ Stereotyping
Also let’s stop assigning gender to tasks. Let’s stop saying, “Stop talking like a woman!” In fact, most frustrated buggers who never get attention from women could actually do better by emulating ‘so called’ feminine traits such as being good listeners, being empathetic, looking after others, paying attention to detail, showering and grooming oneself every day! We could emulate the good in the other populous gender by following in their footsteps instead of mocking them for “taking too much time to get ready” or “doing too much make up”. Also please understand that most women don’t “doll up” to please or attract men. (Like, haddh hai) They do it for themselves. See, the universe does not revolve around men. And I am not generalizing here or making it about men and women. But truth be told, women are more harassed. And so is everything feminine, including effeminate men. If you can’t keep it in your pants, that’s your problem. You should go back home instead of insisting that she should stay at home lest she ends up tempting you by stepping outdoors.
Stop With the MCs and BCs
While we start with the loitering, can we do something about our swearwords? I mean why is it demeaning to be accused of having a vagina? And can we stop asking people to have sex with their mothers and sisters in our swears?
In todays times, you could also get creative and wish they never find change for 2000. Yeah, that’s evil! Look all I’m saying is we cannot fight patriarchy by being sexist douche bags. So can we start by sharing our public spaces with women and treat them like human beings when they are there? The onus but, is not just on men to treat women well. The onus is also on women to treat women well.
Patriarchy is seen as a gendered term but in my opinion it has no gender of its own. It, like water, takes the space in the tongue and actions of the person it embodies.
We need to stand up. We need to fight this menace from within.
Remember, till some of us are not safe, all of us are not safe.
So, let’s rebuild the nation, by starting to make the most vulnerable safe – children, women, transpersons and above all animals.
Thank you. Please.