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They Say,”This Is Not A Profession Meant For Girls”: So Much For Being A Woman Journalist In India

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By Shanthi Cheriyan:

I woke up to read the news of a 23-year-old journalist gang raped in the Maximum City of India. I soon met my relatives who were bombarding from all sides about the dangers of being a female journalist in India.

None of us are new to the comments put forward by the politicians and the public in general about how its the girl’s fault when she gets raped and blaming her for being out at night. I was surprised to hear such comments being passed for this incident as well. The same questions and comments. “Why was she out at this time of the hour?” “These young women journalists show too much courage and go to any level and this how they end up.”

mumbai

We have witnessed many candle light marches, young women and men taking to the streets to change this system, anti rape bill being formed, but nothing has changed between the 16th of December last year and now. Every time such outrageous incidents happen, our leaders come out and condemn the incident and say how it is a sad day for the society. But nothing changes. Neither the number nor the attitude.

And then flowed the stream of advice for me. “This is not a profession meant for girls.” “You should look for a job that has a fixed 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. work schedule.” “How do you possibly think of having a good family life being in such a profession?” “Who would possibly want to marry someone who roams around at odd hours?”

I am not too sanguine to think that we are going to see a decrease in number of rape cases because of all the media buzz and protests. Nor am I hoping for a change in attitude of the people in such a patriarchal society. But there are a lot of us who has come forward knowing the risks and hardships we have to endure; not just journalists, but photographers, people who work in call centres and many others who dared to get out of their comfort zone or at least the zone dictated for women by the society. Forget feminism, forget women’s right, but there is something that I as an individual have the right to pursue. That is to follow my dream and my passion. Please do not bring your categorization of what job is meant for men and what is meant for women. We neither get protection nor the support. But at least free us from these criticisms. Leave us to follow our passion and do our work with the dignity.

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  1. The Superstitious Atheist

    Change is a slow process, it is sad but it is. A part of me wants to practice the lynch mob ideology on them, but that part is speaking with untold anger. I can’t imagine what the victims might be feeling right now. I hope justice is served.
    Also, very recently, Asaram Bapu was embroiled in a rape (?) case.
    Another case of an 85 year old being raped and robbed was in a corner of the newspaper.
    Rapes happen everyday but once in awhile, it catches the the ire of the public. Maybe it is time to implement Justice Verma’s suggestions.

  2. Vijay anand

    I am not here to decide what is right or what is wrong and for whom.Life is not about choice but what we do or what we could do it completely depends on the integrity of our experiences but these fellow politicians they won’t understand at all because none of them have integrity like we common have.Now this is no more a country of Swami Vivekananda who could once more ignite the light and remove the darkness in the mind of these politicians….

  3. Raj

    While I agree with the author, it is also sad that the society doesn’t show the same level of concern for men. Why don’t parents or relatives admonish men when they get a job in the military or the police? These are extremely dangerous professions and instead of telling the men to be sane and choose less riskier jobs, they are praised for being brave! When they get killed or injured, they are treated as heroes instead of being treated as victims!
    And when men work for 12 to 14 hours in order to raise more money for the family they are praised as good providers and excellent marriage material. What about the stress and the pain that goes into it? What about the fact that such men lose out on their family life and become estranged with their own kids? Don’t these men have their own hobbies and interests?
    I believe that we should respect individual rights and allow individuals to pursue their own careers. Marriage and breeding should be treated as optional secondary goals and not as the primary purpose for the existence of young adults.

    1. Taniya

      You r ryt Raj. women r seen as a cooking or household machine n men as ATM by this society. Y r young boys taught 2 fight be tough not to cry n blah blah blah. N if they don’t get a 5 or 6 digit salary they r considered as a piece of junk. Where is their freedom to dance. To not be adventurous. To cry n b emotional. To wear pink shirts. To not smoke or drink. To not get bullied. Sm1 has to speak up 4 thm 2. Girls n boys r human beings not machines. WE(girls n BOYS) have feelings n a brain 2 thnk 4 themselves

  4. Prashant Kaushik

    2 years ago I lost my mobile while traveling to a busy place. Actually it was stolen or pick pocketed. After learning about the loss, the first few questions fired at me were ” Why you carried in your visibly short jeans pocket ? Why you didn’t put it in your bag in the crowded bus ? Why you didnt use a safety chain” ?
    Obviously this is the reaction of society and frankly I dont condemn it. It wasnt my fault that someone pick pocketed. It was that person who stole and not me who is to be blamed. But still this reaction from our people is natural. When there is a loss, we always regret how it could have been avoided. Mobile is a small thing. The dignity of a women is priceless, so ofcourse should you be more cautions to defend it ?
    Having said that, we are all with the 23 year old photojournalist or the physiotherapist or with millions of women like you. None of you are at fault but it cant be afforded to jeopardize your safety till the change happens.

    And that change is very uphill task, sort of a revolutionary process to occur.
    And please don’t wait for the Men to make the first positive move. TAKE the CHARGE in your OWN HANDS.
    Learn MARTIAL arts instead of Dance.
    Forget about Fair and Lovely concept.
    Put on some MUSCLES , lift weights, be tough.
    Don’t be slim and fragile. Eat proteins, drink Milk, and be strong. You don’t need anyone’s approval for that.
    Physically, Girls are not as much weak as they have been made by our societal expectation.

    Another thing, boycott all those movies and serial where you are shown as damsels in distress. As long as you are fragile, you will be crushed under someone’s shoes.

    1. Baldeep Grewal

      Finally something that makes sense and says exactly what I want to hear! God bless you and may all your wishes come true :’D

    2. Raj

      I think pepper spray, guns and knives are better. Physical strength and martial arts may work in movies but for an ordinary person it’s not that useful. Especially against multiple attackers. Pepper spray is the best.

  5. Baldeep Grewal

    I have often thought what leads to rape and here’s the explanation I have for it:
    Rape violates a woman the right over her body and the woman becomes an object for sexual satisfaction. So, objectification and denial of rights. Sounds familiar? There is a much prevalent social structure that does the same. Patriarchy.
    Our dear society which is so proud for its stern up right patriarchy fails to realize that rape is an evil born out of this very system. Patriarchy denies women the freedom to move out of the house. When they do patriarchy strikes back through rape. The women who try to transcend patriarchy and thus rendered ‘misfits’; ‘too polluted’ to be a part of society. Convoluted, eh?

  6. Vicky chaudhary

    NOW, time is came for the government to pass laws and order against rapist – “HANG TILL DEATH”
    Other wise it will never stop. khabhi kisi ke MAA- BAHEN KE SAAT HO SAKTA HAI.

  7. Saumya Sahni

    I myself a budding journalist. I haven’t joined the bandwagon yet but I am really turned off by the situations that are unfolding in front of me every second. I too face comments akin to these. This is not the first time when women have been targeted. Sheila Dikshit’s infamous comments on girls venturing out late at night is adventurous with reference to deceased journalist Soumya Vishwanathan’s case. I wish I had a magic wand to cure the diseased minds.

    1. Raj

      You are an educated smart adult and you know the risks involved in different career paths. But so do the people joining the armed forces and the police. Yet I don’t hear them demanding their right to walk freely in criminal-infested areas. Yet I don’t hear army personnel with placards shouting “Don’t teach me how to use a gun, teach them not to kill me” . Yet you don’t hear them screaming ” Don’t give me medals for getting killed. We are victims here”.

      So when people ask you to be careful and take care of yourself, don’t take it as a sign of patriarchal oppression. Don’t give that crap about asking rapists not to rape. If shouting slogans and holding placards with those messages worked, not only we wouldn’t have rapists, we would also be able to use those methods to stop terrorism and maoists. But alas, such individuals are beyond reason, thus we must use force to deal with them and at the same time defend ourselves to the best of our personal abilities.

      So I really think it is unhealthy that you are making this exclusively about your job and your gender. If you are going to wish for a magic wand, how about also wishing for those in the police and the military, who become victims of violence while defending our society.
      (I was talking about both men and women in our forces. But in reality our casualties are overwhelmingly male. Guess violence against men isn’t that big of a deal)

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