“She was wearing western clothes”,
“She was roaming the streets late at night”,
“It’s the chowmein which causes men to rape”,
“Television and Internet spread vulgarity”,
“When men see a mannequin in lingerie, the urge to rape is so natural”
“The only criminal is the man who did it.”- Said no one ever
In a nation where girls are told to behave a certain way, I still wonder when was the last time I heard someone say, “You are a guy, behave like one.”
In the most recent ‘Bollywood Actresses Roundtable 2016,’ Sonam Kapoor recalled a horrific incident. As she says, “I was probably 13. I went to watch a movie in Gaeity Galaxy with a group of friends. This man crept up on me and groped me from behind. I was shocked. I sat quietly and watched the movie thinking I’d done something wrong. I didn’t speak about it for almost three years.” With these words, I am sure every girl in India wished that they could talk about the trauma they went through with something similar.
As a common girl, I agree with Sonam when she thinks it’s her fault. Most of the times such men get away with it, because girls are taught to bear it all without saying anything, because they will bring shame upon themselves. Back in 2012, when the gut-wrenching Nirbhaya case happened, I remember switching to a news channel only to hear Asaram Bapu of all people going, “The victim daughter is as guilty as her rapists… She should have called the culprits brothers. This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don`t think so.” Ohh, the Irony.
Sometime back, one of my female friends confided in me and opened my eyes to a harsh truth about someone we both have known since forever. She recollects how the guy tried to violate her despite her endlessly saying “NO.” The instillation of the idea in a guy, that if a girl is talking to them nicely or drinking along, she is ready to sleep with them, is not only disgusting but is an eye-opener as to what the next generation will grow up to be.
The mass molestation of several women on the famous MG Road in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve depicts our dysfunctional society. To my surprise, there are some women who played the game of victim blaming very well. And there is always one guy who makes us question the entire system, this time it was the Karnataka Home Minister, as he blatantly exclaims “A large number of youngsters gathered — youngsters who are almost like westerners… they try to copy westerners not only in mindset, but even the dressing, so some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kind of things do happen.” The hashtag #NotAllMen trending on Twitter, after this incident, just goes to show that men could give a rat’s ass about it, as they are busy defending themselves. (Courtesy: Twitter).
Most of the girls work and live far away from their families, constantly keeping themselves in check, constantly in fear (even if they don’t show it) to stay safe. But is anyone’s safety guaranteed anymore? Or has India become oblivious to see what it is turning into? And, now with every breath I take, I am constantly torn between my willingness to live here and my desire to remain safe.