I’m pretty sure the story that I will be sharing right now will not be as pertinent as that many other women have faced on the Delhi metro. However, it is of course, important to share it.
I study in Ashoka University, in Sonipat, near New Delhi. I often use the metro to travel in Delhi.
The number of people I have received disapproving looks from on the metro is appalling, for simply standing or sitting in the metro. Like many other women and girls, I have been stared at. Somehow, this is something we have come to accept (as I have) and moved on in our lives.
One of those times (during the day), I sat down and there was a man sitting opposite me. I was travelling with a male friend. Mind you, I was wearing a simple top that covered my cleavage completely (not that it matters to me, however, I simply thought I should mention it since Western clothing on women is under attack by Indians lately).
He stared at my face, throughout the ride, and then moved his eyes down to my breasts, as though he could see them. He kept doing this repeatedly. I whispered this to my friend, as I was obviously uncomfortable and irritated. My friend got quite irritated, and he had to look at him straight in the eye, angrily, to make him look away.
This is the India we live in. This is why India needs feminism.
I’m sure, the response to this will be something like #NotAllMen. However, that doesn’t take away the fact that such things are major issues in India.
In my opinion, from primary school itself, gender equality and values must be taught. Every child must learn, in not only theoretical ways but also practical ones, that women are entitled to the exact same things as men (such as wearing what they want to). Men must also know that they are entitled to “feminine” things, such as crying, or even wearing makeup. In every religious organisation and peace organisation, conversations about gender equality must be fostered, and must not be overlooked even in the smallest ways. For example, when a little boy cries and his parents tell him ‘Don’t cry, only girls cry’, leaders and others in these organisations must teach them reasonably why men can cry.
What I am suggesting is, of course, clearly difficult and maybe impossible to achieve completely. But all of us can take steps to correct such behaviour when we notice them, and help people, irrespective of their gender, wherever and whenever we can.
-Rishika Basu Majumdar
From, Kolkata, India