Friday, September 21, 2007

Fair game

I am so sick and tired of people using that old excuse of women dressing provocatively whenever a woman is molested to justify what men do.

On 16 September, close to 43,000 men collected near IP College, in North Campus, to give two exams: for joining the Delhi Police as constables, and to become Lower division Clerks. After the exams, mobs of 200-250 men together started moving towards the college, and innumerable cases of molestation occurred that day. The two worst cases that I heard about on the radio this morning including 250 men surrounding one girl and tearing her clothes, and pinching and touching her all over, as well as another case where some 15 odd men dragged one girl into the lift at the Vishwavidyalaya Metro station and molested her there. There were no police or security forces present, and when the girl molested at the Metro station went to lodge an FIR, she was apparently told by the police that security at Metro stations is the responsibility of the CRPF and has nothing to do with them.

Today, while traveling to college, I was listening to the radio, and that's when I heard about all this. Two radio channels had got girls from IP College on air, speaking about what had happened, and what their demands were. Listeners were, as usual, asked to call up and give their opinions. One lady called up and spoke at length about how women dress in skimpy clothes and provoke men. Do the people who say this actually believe it themselves? Half the women who are eve-teased or molested or even raped on the streets are dressed in salwar kameezes. Yet this arguement comes up every freaking time. It came in the comments left by two male friends when I wrote about eve-teasing more than a year ago. Women in villages don't dress in short skirts; yet they're raped by men from their village, their neighbourhood, their own family.

Sonia Faleiro wrote this piece about a week back. Reading it just reminded me of how helpless we women still are. No matter how much hogwash you spout about us having made so much progress (and if you give me the example of Pratibha Patil being President I might just slap you), the truth is, we have so far to go it's not even funny.

My mother tends to laugh of my paranoia about feeling unsafe on the roads. She says she heard enough comments during her college days. I point out to her that she studied in a city like Kolkata where a dozen people would appear to defend any woman who is so much as whistled at. I, on the other hand, have the supreme misfortune of being privileged enough to study in the Capital of India, where a woman is raped in broad daylight at Khooni Darwaza, and not a soul comes forward to help her. Where a woman goes to the police to lodge an FIR about having been molested, and they refuse to do so.

I travel by DTC buses almost everyday. And I never know whether that man pressed up against me is doing so because of how crowded the bus is or simply because he gets some perverse kick out doing so. I've been followed by a guy driving a Camry and speaking English while walking home from our neighbourhood market - so what if I live in a supposedly posh colony. It doesn't matter what I'm wearing, where I am, or how I look. I'm a woman, traveling alone in the city of Delhi. That makes me fair game.


ZiggyStrauss said...


That's about all I can say

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