Let me tell you two stories.
A girl in a pair of shorts walks at a leisurely pace at 2.30 am by the bay listening to music on her phone. She occasionally stops to click photographs of the night light, the moon, the serene waters… Refreshed and joyful, she walks back home.
A girl in a pair of denims and a T-shirt is heading home at 11.30 pm from work and her auto driver drops her right outside the lane where she lives. She makes a bee line for her home, walking as fast as her heels will possibly allow her. Her feet are aching but she walks fast, almost running. She hears the unmistakable sound of a bike – and begins to walk even faster, if that is possible. The bike goes ahead of her and turns around. The beast now faces her. Two men clamber off their bike and move towards her. They grab her and grope her for many minutes; she shouts and cries and struggles but no one hears her.
They leave her fallen on the road. Struggling to her feet, and with tears in her eyes, she manages to reach home.
In both stories the girl reaches home. One is a tigress and the other a mouse.
Which story sounds more believable? You bet the second story. For we do not know of a single place where a woman can be seen walking past midnight, at a leisurely pace, in India.
Welcome to my world.
I am an Indian woman.
As a Wife, a Working Woman, a Sister...
Bengaluru is just one example of hooliganism. But was it really just the shortage of security arrangements that failed all of us?
The lot that came out to gather in a mob, grope and molest girls on New Year’s eve is a stark example of a society that refuses to learn. It is a loud and scary example of patriarchal influence; boys cannot be told what to do or how to behave – so we always tell the girls instead.
As a woman, I have faced discrimination at work where I have faced sexual harassment, been a victim to mansplaining. As a wife, I have been made to sacrifice my own identity and take on that of my husband’s. As a sister, I have learnt that boys have all the freedom in the world but girls should behave well and not imitate them.
As a 21st century digital media user, I am wary of posting personal photographs on social media for fear that someone will share those photographs, use them and abuse them.
On a Daily Basis...
On a daily basis, I’m struggling to fit into a society made for, of and by men.
On a daily basis I’m struggling to remember who I am.
Things wont change until men change men.
Until fathers change the way they bring up their sons and daughters. Until mothers don’t unlearn the idea of treating sons as torch bearers for the family genes.
If the mob of patriarchy has made it to the roads to openly threaten the safety of women, do we still purse our lips in silence?
Many young girls have shown bravery in admitting that they were victimised. The law is trying to salvage what the Home Minister said or was understood to have said.
But I think we need to do more. Firstly, harsher punishments need to be put in place for crimes against women.
Secondly, the education system must inculcate values of equality amongst both sexes. It is a long drawn process but I think the values taught in school stay with us longer than anything else. Boys should not be allowed to bully girls in school.
Until this multi-pronged effort is made we will still be hearing more stories of crimes against women. Mass molestations I dread may become mass rapes.
(After two decades of working in various fields such as a radio jockey with AIR, Zee News and CNN as a journalist and after moving in the corporate world, Malini found solace in being an author, painter, photographer and an active feminist. She has recently published her first book ‘Flotsam of the Mind’ – which resonates with the women of today who have had their fair share of struggles, love, failure and a whole myriad of emotions over the years. Her Facebook page is Malini Author Painter.)