IndiBlogger and TOI got together and hosted a meet, where we discussed about issues that women in Mumbai face and possible solutions. Issues ranged from safety, security, hassels and last but not the least health. Here is an account of that meet, mixed with my thoughts.
A man is known for his dreams, for his ambition, for his opinions and his ideals. Isn’t it the same for women? We call them the fairer sex, some even pray woman in the form of goddesses, but can someday we let them live like a human being without double standards.
Trying to look over your shoulder at all times, constantly trying to be safe, trying to ward off any unwanted attention and still trying to enjoy the moments of life. How hard it must be, I thought as I heard women talking about their experiences, when they were stalked, followed etc. If this is something I had to face on a daily basis, the four walls of my house would have been my world. To even venture outside and have a work life, a social life would be such a task. How did we get here? How do we get out of here? Most of us try to be a good person, visit a place of worship and book a berth in heaven to escape hell. But for a woman, this might as well be her own personal hell. A travel blogger (who has been to 25 countries) said that of all the countries she visited, she felt the least safe at her home, in India. After hearing this everyone went into a deep pause for a sec, a moment of reflection.
If you are followed, if someone stalks you, do what your instinct tells you. Someone might preach a better way, but whatever gets you out of a situation you do. But after that, I recommend to all the women out there to report it to the police. Just file a case, a FIR, mention the place, the time and the person that followed you. Maybe and just maybe they will put someone on patrol there. Next time the pervert is there probably a policeman will deter him from stalking. He/she may change their pattern, the locale but it may save a life if not from anything else then, from at least being harassed. The system may be slow and many times it may feel as if it doesn’t work. But we are the system, a part of it. Unless we report something, it won’t show up on their radars. If significant numbers crop up on their reports, they surely will take action. If they don’t then we can protest and take up with higher authorities. But if no report is filed, it is as good as it never happened. We blame the system, while we are the system. A much less known fact about system is that there exists a helpline. In case of any railway emergency or situation e.g. loss of baggage, some miscreant etc, one can call 98333 31111 and ask for help. And from the examples that we heard, the help is effective and immediate. But one has to be clear about the specifics, car position, train direction, station etc.
Her dress doesn’t declare her morals, her choice of words doesn’t declare her moral and we don’t get to decide if she ‘is asking for it’. What if same standard was used for a man in his shorts? A man with a drink in his hand judged as one with loose morals. Do his morals call for him being teased or much worse? Not by women, oh no, do onto yourself what you would do to others. That means – by men, to men.
The average woman is portrayed in adverts as someone who worries for her family and takes care of them. They show a woman worried and stressing over the husband’s health and they bring in a product that relieves her of the stress. Woman’s health is not just name of a magazine, but it’s also an issue much neglected. Be it infections, cancer or even stress, less than half the adverts are directed at these issues as compared to those directed towards men’s health. It is talked about in hushed tones and rarely discussed. So let us just put it out there in big bold letters.
I was a bit miffed about the fact that for all of this to happen, it took an incident. A ghastly rape which involved a rod. After the incident, the whole country woke up and became much more vocal than it ever was. Probably if we had woken up before Nirbhaya was raped, the story might have been different. Somewhere down the lane, after years of reading about rape, our sensitivity threshold became high. We started ‘tolerating’ such news and were indifferent to it. The rod got us here. Writing this paragraph makes me sadder than ever, much more sad than when I was writing this one.
There is the good, the bad and the downright ugly in every society. The good have to wake up and fight the bad and the ugly. There won’t be any bloodshed, for it will be a battle of equality fought by the law, by the mind, by education and sense. It will be a battle for the equality of gender. Neither will the battle be a short one, nor will it be down in the books of history, but the spoils of victory will be cherished by the future, by men and women as equals.
A brilliant video that TOI featured at the meet –