I read about the Mumbai gang rape today. You can check it out here. I must say, it left me deeply disturbed.
You know, not so long ago, I was going out for dinner with my girl friends. Dad asked me what time I'd be home and I said that I'll be back by 11-11.30pm. He refused point blank and asked me to be home by 9.30, 10pm at the most. I was taking my scooter. We had a row then and there and dad finally declared "Mumbai is not a safe place for girls anymore!" I laughed at him. On his face. I said "Mumbai is the safest place on Earth for women!" and I honestly meant it. After this incident, realisation dawned (I really wonder why it took me so long.) No, Mumbai is not a safe place anymore. Why Mumbai? Neither is India!
When I was in school, 6th standard maybe, we were travelling overnight by train to Tamil Nadu. This man kept eyeing me for no particular reason. The top berth being the favourite most for any kid, was allotted to me. In the middle of the night, I realized that same man lying behind me, hugging me close to his body. I woke up with a start and he scrambled back to his berth. I woke mum and dad up, they created a ruckus and that pervert got off the train. What more could I do?
When I lived in Kerala, I was walking to my place, in the middle of the day. One rickshaw wala slowed down next to me, asking me with indications if I needed a ride. I said no and he drove away. I kept walking and next thing I know, the rickshaw took a U-turn, came racing up to me, and sped past me while the rickshaw wala grabbed my breast. I kept walking like nothing happened. What more could I do?
People say most rapes take place within the family. No, I'm not about to narrate a horrible tale or anything. My own cousin, a guy, used to get all touchy with me. No, not all that bad. He used to put his arms around my waist, keep holding my hands, etc. It made me very uncomfortable. It made me feel all the more disgusting when I realised that he did all this when my parents were not around. Ever since, I have maintained my distance. What more could I do?
When I leave for work in the morning, the morning shift of security guards manning the building stare at me, unfazed. What can I do?
When I stand at the bus stop, waiting for a bus, a creep invariably stands beside me, staring at me with not a single flicker of shame. What can I do?
When I board a bus, some pervert purposely pushes behind me, keeping maximum possible proximity. What can I do?
When I sit on the seat reserved for ladies, men who don't find any seats stand next to the ladies, pushing their groin and huge paunches at our face and shoulder. We ask them to move away. They do and another guy takes their place instead. And this cycle continues. What can we do?
When I commute by bus, creeps stare at me, not flinching once when I stare back. What more can I do?
While commuting by bus, men wait with halted breaths as to when the wind will give them a chance to glance at my cleavage or get a glimpse of my bra strap. What can I do?
In buses/trains, men go to the extent of clicking my pictures, like I am some model showing the fun ways of travelling by public transport. To discourage such behavior, I tie my face with a scarf. Eventually, the heat gets to me and I remove the scarf. And thus, the cycle continues. What more can I do?
When travelling by trains, the slum kids, especially boys, ride by the ladies compartment. They prefer hanging out of the train door. They also prefer staring at women's breasts while also commuting from one place to the other. What can we do?
When I drive, I get many whistles and hoots and honks and squeals. I ignore them and drive on. Sometimes, I am even chased after. And yet, I keep driving. What more can we do?
While walking down the road, I am stalked by the roadside romeos and am subjected to whistles. I ignore them and walk on. What more can I do?
I am subjected to stares from the policemen. What can I do?
When I went on a school trip to Kodaikanal, my butt was groped by some man while walking down a hill. What could I do?
At railway stations, with all the crowd in India, especially Mumbai, my breasts and my butt are subject to a lot of teasing and excitement, however well covered/decently dressed. What can I do?
When men sit next to us ladies, they invariably find the need to fish something out of their shirt pocket. Really? Don't you know that I know that it is just a perverse way for you to nudge and get a feel of my breasts? At the most we can push them away. What more can we do?
When commuting by crowded buses and we don't find any space to sit, we will invariably find another man standing behind us, his groin pressed to our back and his hot breath on our necks. We, again, as usual, push them away and at the most, raise a ruckus. What more can we do?
While commuting by public transport, when men sit behind women, the men just love to touch women's waist and hips. We create a ruckus and some drama. He ultimately gets the piece of action he wanted. What more can we do?
I now fully understand why my parents have a problem with me wearing sleeveless t-shirts, shorts and one piece dresses. I now understand why my parents set a strict curfew. I now understand why my parents ask me to limit my number of guy friends and my closeness to them. I now understand what my parents must be feeling when I don't keep them updated as to where I am. I now understand why my parents are willing to spend any amount of money to ensure that I travel by private transport, safely.
Bloody hell, I now understand why female foeticide and female infanticide is so rampant in India. What parent would want their girl child to go through all that we do?