Open the newspaper, and it’s the same news everyday. Rape, eve-teasing and sexual abuse have become so common place in our “modern civilised society”. The news is the same, just the locations and names change. The statistics keep rising and nothing is being done. To begin with, we have an appalling crime on our hands. An invasion of privacy and the right to a healthy body and mind. People are over-stepping boundaries everywhere and are doing so undeterred, unpunished and more importantly, unashamedly! What’s more appalling is the way we handle it. One the one hand there are those who prefer to push it under the rug and ignore the menace while the others take it to a whole other level by blaming the victim. What are we living in the 12th century?! We’ve stepped on the moon and even made it to Mars but we can’t even ensure our women can walk at anytime and anywhere without fear!
We have our “leaders”, elected representatives of the people, talking about how you can’t get pregnant by rape or about how women need to dress more conservatively or better yet stay indoors! Do you know what’s more pathetic? That these people actually do represent the majority opinion. Most people out there agree with them. There are people who think it’s a taboo subject, not to be spoken about in public but whispered within the confines of our bedrooms and shoved in our sock drawers along with the other stuff we’d like to keep a secret. Others think that it’s the fault of the girl or woman for being too forward – for dressing up too much or too down, for daring to step out of the house after hours or for going out with a boy. Let’s take this one at a time.
For those of you who are sitting at home and whispering about this, my question to you is firstly, are you a man or a woman. Whichever you are, SHAME ON YOU! Shame on you because all you do is whisper, where you agree or disagree with the majority, it does not matter. Your opinion matters, it makes a difference. You could be teaching people, making them understand, changing their views, but what do you do instead? You whisper. You whisper about it just like you whisper about your next door neighbour’s affair you just unearthed. Unfortunately for you and for the rest of us, this is not something that needs whispering about. You need to pick a side and take a stand. Raise your voice and make sure it’s heard. It’s not much but it makes a difference.
Now let’s get down to the ugly business. To the ones who think it’s the fault of the girl or the woman. Let’s take it a step at a time. The most common sentence I’ve heard is “Have you seen the way she was dressed? She was asking for it!” and that’s where the conversation ends. Like that one sentence just said it all and explained the how, the when and the why. From my point of view, that is where the conversation should start! Let’s think about it. Women need to dress a certain. You shouldn’t show too much because then you look easy and you DEFINITELY DO NOT want to look easy. But then again, you can cover too much because then there isn’t anything to see there, is it? You’re meant to dress JUST right! Then you have to worry about what JUST RIGHT means, just right according to whom? What’s normal for one could be vulgar for another and classy for a third. Whom do you pacify? Whatever happened to dressing for yourself and not having to worry about attracting comments and untoward glances? The clothes don’t matter, just like age does. People go for women in burkha just the way they go for little kids and old women, please explain to me how either of the two could be “provocatively dressed” or “asking for it” in any way or form? And if you still say that clothes make you provocative, then I guess you could also say the same when a rich guy is robbed. He was wearing expensive stuff, I was tempted. Makes perfect sense doesn’t it? But this argument doesn’t hold in court, then why does the previous one hold in every situation?
Two down, two to go. For those of you who think that there should be a curfew imposed on women, what can I say? Please return to the medieval ages! They’ll welcome you with open arms! Crimes happen in broad daylight in the same capacity as they do in the dark. Offenders have taken continued indifference to mean approval and bask in the glory of their crimes even during the day. So what will you say to that now? Please don’t step out of your houses? Then how do you expect us to work or get an education? Or maybe you think that we don’t need it! If you’re the kind of person who thinks women shouldn’t be out after dark then maybe you also think that we’re not worth educating and that we shouldn’t be working! You start with one small imposition and before you know it, you’ve made several laws and striped people of basic rights. If you’ll had it your way, women would be back where they started, in the kitchen without the right to education, vote or even equality!
Last but not least. For those of you who think that just because a girl is with one boy, she shouldn’t mind being with many. Hmmmm, how do we tackle this one. Would you the say the same if the object were to be your house? your salary? After all, sharing is caring right? If a girl is with 1 boy or with many, it shouldn’t matter to you! She’s with who she chooses to be. And how do you know how the boys are related to her? They could be her brothers for all you know!! It’s her choice. You ARE NOT entitled to something just because you think you are! It does not permit you or give you any authority whatsoever!
The problem with our society is we don’t educate. We don’t teach. We don’t teach that a NO is a NO. That once you hear it, you back off! That silence does not mean yes. That even when you hear a yes, ask again and be sure. Why should innocent people become victim to your urges. Just because you can’t control yourself, why should someone else be punished? Are you so weak? So weak that you would prey on anyone and everyone? So mindless that you can’t see past the lust? Then perhaps you’re unfit for a civilised society. Perhaps YOU need to rethink getting out of your house. Because what you are, is a threat to safety, the safety of all the women out there. A bane and a curse let loose on all the women around it. You are sick! For the crimes you commit and the pain and humiliation that you put someone through. You’re a coward! One who stoops so low and gives in to such depraved acts. But most of all, what you are, is an abomination! An abomination on man. So until you can control yourself, until you can understand what a no means, you are unfit for society.
Safety is not a privilege that you offer to women. It’s a right. And it’s a right we should be allowed to take for granted. Right now, it’s not. It’s far from being a right. Speak to the women in your life, your sisters, mothers, wives, girlfriends and friends. Ask them how they feel when they read this on the paper or see it on the news. Are they outraged? Afraid? Worried? They’re all of the above and more. We angry, angry that we’re not allowed to be independent, that we can’t go where we want and when we want to. Angry because we’re being questioned about what we’re wearing and that we’ve to question ourselves a million times about what we’re wearing before we step out. We’re angry that we are the ones who are being blamed when all we did was exercise our right to freedom. We’re worried, worried for our friends and sisters and mothers, that it might have been them. That it might be them the next time or the time after that. We’re scared, scared that might have been us, that might be us when we go out today. Scared that no one will be able to hear us, hear what we have to say, scared that we may end up as the article on the newspaper or the latest breaking news on TV.
If you’re a man, then know this, there is NO EXCUSE, absolutely none to violate a women’s body or her personal space. It doesn’t matter how she’s dressed, whom she’d with, what time of the day it is or what state you’re in. You may think she’s asking for it but spare her all the same. If it’s not spelt out explicitly then it’s not called asking for it. You resist robbing a bank when you pass it everyday, don’t you? Then I’m sure you can resist raping a woman. You worry for the safety of your mother, sister, girlfriend or friend. Why? Because you care about them. There’s someone who cares about these women too. So back off. Do as you would want done. Shed that mask of anonymity and you’ll find that you care.
If you’re one of our legislators or in the media, stop spreading negative messages. So a Minister said that girls shouldn’t dress provocatively, that’s his opinion. There’s no requirement to broadcast it to the world! We live in a country where the majority is uneducated, such words coming from a person of that stature would influence a lot of minds. They would be inclined to think he’s right and since you’re broadcasting it, then it definitely must be. Be proactive and educate the public. You wield a power in your hands, such as no other! Use it to influence and educate the public. When terrorists infiltrate out soil, we take them out, we don’t put restrictions on the city and discuss what the city did wrong to attract the terrorists. Then why are we penalising the victim here?
To the rest of us, it’s up to us to make a difference in the smallest of ways. To stop being shy and raise our voices. Everyday there are girls who are harassed and bullied. If you’re one of them stand up and stop it. Carry a pin, a knife or any other sharp object. Show them you’re not meek, that you will fight! This somehow takes all the fight out of them. They don’t want someone who’ll fight back, They’re looking for an easy target. They don’t want to put in effort in getting you under control that’s a waste of time. Quick and easy. Safeguard yourself, move in public where there are a lot of people. Scream if the need be, you’re not the one at fault! If you’re a part of a crowd and you see something then do something to stop it. Yell, scream, call the police but make a ruckus so that the person at fault is caught. Stop this crime before it becomes an endemic. One voice is all it takes to start a revolution.Be that voice, or you might as well be nothing at all.