ByÂ 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.”
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.