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Note To Parochial Minds: All Women Working In Nights Shifts Are Not Prostitutes!

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By Neha Mayuri:

Oh! So she works at a night call center!? Really? Wow! Then she must be easily available!

This is what I heard while I overheard a conversation between two men. I was ashamed at the parochial mindset and male chauvinism. I bit my lips in anger, disgust, and helplessness. I walked up to them asking them what made them say this? They laughed remorselessly and walked away leaving me puzzled and infuriated!

BPO

The call centers are seen as a source of liberation for women due to relatively high wages and high-tech work environment. These BPO’s and MNC’s provide employment to a majority of women in India, women step out of their homes to be independent, self sufficient, and to support their family. Life is a bed of roses with a good pay and a nice atmosphere in these outsourced jobs. But, there is a hideous reality to it, even in the present era working in night call centers is looked down upon by majority of men! Women are looked at suspiciously when they work night shifts. I’m not saying just for the sake of it. The hyper growth of the transnational call center industry has its perks and its disadvantages too! Let me shed light on a recent incident which occurred and left me pondering with shock, dismay, and anger!

“For many young people, especially women, call-center work means money, independence, and an informal environment where they can wear and say what they like. Along with training in American accents and geography, India’s legions of call-center employees are absorbing new ideas about family, material possessions and romance.” –Wall Street Journal, 2004

One of my friends, a woman, works at a call center in Pune, India. Vaishali (name changed) is married and has two beautiful daughters, a single mother working to meet ends for her daughters. It’s heart touching and I salute the commendable spirit of this very fine young woman. She works night shifts and the cab comes to pick her up usually at 9pm IST every night, people are awake at this time and unfortunately she had to face the criticism of the men in the society where she stays and is a part of.

She spoke to me sobbing uncontrollably and I bit my tongue in anger wishing I could change the mindsets of men making them realize that working in nights does not mean you do not deserve to stay among the “reputed” members of the society.

Her version, and I quote “I work night shifts, usually it gets hectic and I leave home at 9 pm and get off at 6 am, I come home in the morning and that’s my daily routine. Six months have passed, I’m quite happy with my job and satisfied with the fact that I can contribute to the education of my daughters and pay their school fee, house rent, and daily expenses. I want my daughters to be happy and lead a prosperous life. Things were going fine till I was spurned by my neighbors and men who saw me getting in a car with different men sitting inside it every day. They thought I’m a sex worker and I started getting threat calls, lewd text messages, and moral speeches on how I should lead my life. Men, who were my neighbors, started knocking my door during the nights when I had off during weekends. I was traumatized and scared, I did not know who to approach, I cried, I shouted, I explained to them that I work at nights and I work with dignity to support my family and raise my daughters. But nobody cared and nobody listened to me. I was helpless; the security of my daughters was in danger. I did not have the courage to raise my voice and go to a local police station or an NGO for that matter. I feared if I approached the authorities, my life may be in grave danger. I feared the society. I cannot leave my job hence I’ve decided to leave the house I stay at, my daughters and I will search a new home, a secure place to live where I can work without stress and fear.

I was shocked to hear this! I acknowledge the fact that she should have approached the authorities but will the authorities provide her enough security if she decides to raise her voice against the grave injustice and parochial mindsets? The male chauvinists will take revenge, she fears.

She says she will search for a new home, but the bottom line is where will she find this new home? She has to stay in India, where ever she decides to stay in the country there will be people who will raise their brows if they feel that going out in a car with different men inside the car every night is shameful! It’s beyond their morals! Though, they are not aware neither willing to understand that those men are her colleagues. The question is ‘ If a women is a part of the society, then why does she struggle to find respect, and a suitable place for herself in the same?

This is an unfortunate reality in many parts of India, women working in call centers are spurned by a majority of men even today! Despite wearing identity cards, women are accused of “prostitution” and “promiscuity” and oh, have we forgotten about the rapes of women who work night shifts? If we Google it, we are sure to find many such instances in many parts of our “democratic India.” Women leaving home at night to work are considered “absolutely inappropriate and disgusting”! The rule book created solely by the society says “NO” when it comes to working at night! As a result, these women face the consequences when they break the rules in form of rapes, threats, lewd as well as obscene calls and text messages, and often moral policing.

The cases of harassment while commuting to work and at office is a regular occurrence. A survey published in The Indian Express on May 8th, 2012 conducted by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) stated “Majority of women doing night shifts feel insecure!

The survey said that despite certain measures taken by the police to ensure safety, approximately 73 percent of women feel insecure in major hubs across the country, and Delhi was “the most unsafe” followed by Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Pune.

Why is a woman not safe in the civilized society she is a part of? It is us who can help change mindsets, attitudes, and beliefs. It is us who can shape the future of our country progressively. It is us who can work for women empowerment. We can make them feel secure and we can make them feel that they too, like each one of us, deserve to choose a profession of their choice without fear. We need to support women when they need our help. Though it may appear a distant dream but if each one of us starts today, I’m sure we will be able to make India a better place for women to stay!

You must be to comment.
  1. Shanthi Cheriyan (@shanthi_249)

    Even when our country is readily accepting westernization in many other sectors it is still reluctant to accept the fact that women are becoming more independent and capable of taking control of their own lives. And I feel we still have a long way to go before these mind sets starts to change. For many, women are still supposed to stay at home and take care of the family while it is the man who is supposed to the sole bread-winner. It is this basic patriarchal mindset that needs to change first.

    1. Raj

      Oh not a word of sympathy for the men who have been forced to feed their wife and kids? That’s fine patriarchy, no?

  2. jiakunal (@jiakunal)

    Just because women work in a call center at night does not make them easily ‘available.’This mindset of an ignorant patriarchal society&its pathetic attitudes towards working women must change!

  3. Ridhi Murari

    I fail to understand when women will get their due respect in this country.

    1. Raj

      I fail to understand when women and MEN will get their due respect in this country

  4. Pallavi

    T caption rather should read “women working in night shifts are not prostitutes”

    1. Raj

      “All Women Working In Nights Shifts Are Not Prostitutes” is logically fine since some women who do work in the nights are indeed prostitutes.

    2. Neha Mayuri

      Hi Raj! Thank You for reading the article. Honoured.

    3. Raj

      Sure thing

  5. Pallavi

    yet a relevant point made..good work

    1. Neha Mayuri

      Thank you for reading it Pallavi. Honoured..

  6. Pritam Thakur

    The story is heartbreaking… We talk about women empowerment and open-mindedness in women but make such derogatory opinions when a woman tries to self-dependent! Aren’t we hypocrites in that sense ?

    1. Neha Mayuri

      Yes ! It needs to change Pritam! And it needs to change NOW. I respect your views.

  7. Ajit

    When somebody speaks of authorities, I am reminded of the fact that these authorities come from us only not from some other planet.
    And for Vaishali, fighting with society is noway a choice, alas. I can only wish her to find a new home where she feels LESS INSECURE.

  8. Raj

    While this is a sad incident, I am pretty sure that most urban people do indeed know what night shifts in offices are. No doubt disturbing and the victim does need support. And those chauvinists who think working and earning money (day or night) is a man’s job, they need to relax and let women do those jobs too/

    As someone who has himself worked in night shifts in India and abroad, most of the women I’ve seen at 1 in the morning are indeed prostitutes. No seriously, they indeed are and will not fail to advertise the fact in order to solicit business. Obviously this is no grounds for ignorance and the society must not judge and accept women working in offices at night. (The society should also accept prostitutes but that’s a different topic )
    My personal views on night shift is that yes indeed women and men should be allowed to work during the nights. One of my former companies was sexist and did not allow female employees to work after 8 30 pm. Consequently I was often stuck in night shift finishing their work which pissed me off since I was earning the same as my female employees (lesser in fact, since I didn’t get maternity leave). I think any working adult should be allowed to work at any time of the day.

  9. K.B.Srivastava

    People know very well that all women working in nights shifts are not prostitutes, but there are many madmen found on the roads. Therefore, all good girls and ladies should have a pistol with them ( with bullet containing anaesthesia to get the criminals/culprits unconscious for some time) for their safety.

    1. Raj

      Should bad girls and women have pistol with them? Should good boys and men have pistols with them?

  10. Aman

    While i pitty the situation in which the women was caught and feel disgrased by the way those stupid people did behave …But i also want to state that yes there would be morons every where who have such mindsets ….Who would not mind there own buisness and poke into what others are doing..And specially if it is women then there focus would be definately on her…….But why women are fearing to fight against these stupid people….Why they sound helpless and expect the such morons to change..and fear those men like we are leaving in anarchy….The people on this forum or educated minds who know what a call center is will never ask her questions..its all about hand full morons who seem to harass women….Why cant women have the guts to fight,,,,Remeber you are the one who give birth to both male and female….Women have to take the roop of Chandi and show there agression its only then stupid morons will run away….Its only then you would break the sterotype thinking that women are weak in comparison to men..Women will have to face there problems not by sobbing any more…..Changing the room was the biggest mistake ..this was another victory of such morons and adding fuel to there belief that yes she was a prostitute and many others working in the night are….

    I can just imagine despite been educated we fall back what would be the state of women who do not know education and laws….Women rise up show your real power fight for your self…bring change in you attitude automatically the society would change

  11. Ak

    Another incidence of a victory of people who advocate patriarchial mindset….Another incident where a women has proved that yes she is indeed helpless without a man specially when she is married ..and a man is needed to protect her in a patriarchial society like India….Another incidence of lack of courage to fight against illogical burdens and perceptions imposed on women India…another futile effort to change minds influenced by patriarchy…

    First of all we know India is full of people who are of patriarchial minds.. and if a women defies the mindset and wants to stay on her own she will face such issues….Then why dont women fight back against such issues….Why do they add fuel by stepping back and proving that yes they are really helpless specially after marraiage and having kids…How strange that they have forgotten Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi who fought the battle with her child and died fighting….Who will lead the fight of self emancipation….how will examples be created …This case would further change minds of few more women who would have been thinking of seprating from there husbands …they would say it is better to stick to him and face his atrocities atleast she will be safe from external people….

    Been educated with so much easy access to media and law if you step back u are a biggest l looser…u are not fit to fight for rights….yes rights when not given have to be snatched by fighting………When would women specially educated once facing such issues start becoming torch bearers and prove to the world they are strong enough and do not beed a man for there existence

  12. vaishali

    i dont get what tis male chuvnistic society thinks of itself..if a woman goes to work at night tey giv al d names tey gud..but so many men go out during nyt wt s d gaurantee tat tey go only to their workplaces and not to some redlight areas or do some wrong kinda jobs..nobody asdks tem..even if tey are asked tey say “i go for work” and we believe y is it nt the case for a woman..we may get modern and civilised by the looks and development but sorry to say this socity is stil in its 17th century mindsets of women shuld nt step out.if tey go tey are wrong….our indian socity never understood the meaning of civilisation..we say we are civilised bt we are nt ..wen our mindsets are stuck how the hel can those men cal temselves civilised….

    1. Aman

      How funny ….if they would have thought about these things and the other female gender would they be called as male chauvinists…or patriarchial….no…they are called so as they believe in doctorine of chaunism and patriarchy…they believe that female are inferior to men…they believe that female no matter how bold still has to be under restrictions…Do you think enlighting such minds is going to lead u results …I am sorry it wont…

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