I speak as the woman who feels safe to walk on the streets with a heavy handbag; if held in the right way, it acts as a great shield against creepy “intentional colliders”.
I speak as the woman who struggles to reach home before dark so that people who care about her don’t have to worry about the unsafe lanes.
I speak as the woman who has mastered the art of walking with an expressionless face every time she is scared of walking by a group of rude, eve teasing men; also walking as fast as possible without letting the speed be visible.
I speak as the Indian woman whose call for a safe country is now considered a rant and she is advised “not to get raped.”
My sister and I have always been taught to look into the eyes of the man passing by or approaching you on the streets. “Recognize a man’s look and walk carefully“, we were told. And so we learned to look at the way a man is approaching in our direction and to read his body language to be sure we will walk past him without having to hear a sleazy comment or having to bear a tactically placed lecherous touch. Thus, when I hear the question “How an Indian man approaches a woman?” the polite, well spoken, well behaved, respectable gentlemen are not the first ones to come in mind. What comes in mind is very well put forward in the video above.
Those are the kind of comments that a woman on any street in India has heard many times in her life. Based on such comments, more women than we estimate, change their path of daily commute to avoid the regular group of hoodlums sitting by the corner of that street. And if directions cannot be changed, they find out ways to avoid, ignore, talk back, talk to family, talk to authorities, walk past, un-hear and forget. But whatever they do, whatever they say, it is never enough to make those men ashamed of themselves. Nothing ever changes. And nothing ever will unless that “shame” is somehow visible to those men on street corners, in college campuses, on railway stations, in auto stands, at restaurants, in pubs and everywhere. You name the place and you’ll find an individual or a group of men who never stop themselves from opening their mouths in the cheapest manner possible.
To the other group of respectable gentlemen I talked about earlier: I just have to say that those men who approach women in degrading ways are in a much larger proportion than you and they have made us forget about your kind when we walk on the streets. To me, the word “approach”, in spite of its correct literary meaning here, sounds just too civilized to be used for those men. I understand when you say that not all Indian men are the same, and I understand that you hate it when you see such lewd comments being passed on any woman; I understand that you want the same change that I want. It will be great if you can also understand that you and I should together call out these shameful things to stop them once and for all. Because as the video says, #NoShameNoChange. Please remember, the looks, those expressions, those voices, and those words- they stick with a woman for life.