Women’s Safety In India Has A Long Way To Go

A girl boards an overloaded train from New Delhi station. Some milkmen carrying big milk cans also board the same train. The girl doesn’t find any seat to sit on while the milkmen adjust themselves by sitting on their cans and also offer one to the girl. One of the milkmen, a young smart guy makes the girl sit close to him. He begins to impress her by playing music on his mobile and also sings some lines for her. The girl blushes but has no choice as there is no space to move. The young milkman makes advances and harasses the girl. He simply strips her with his dirty words.

There are a huge number of people, boys and girls, men and women, sisters and brothers, young and old, witnessing this open harassment but no one utters a word against this evil. After almost three hours, a young man interferes and exchanges his seat for a can with the girl and shields her from the milkman.

A doctor at AIIMS gets two little kids to throw acid at a fellow female doctor (also his friend) for rejecting his proposals from time to time. A fourth year female physiotherapy student is openly burnt at School of Medical Education (SME) by another physiotherapy student for rejecting his proposal. Pinki Devi is stabbed to death at a crowded Gurgaon Metro station by an auto driver for rejecting his proposal. These incidents take place in my country, the incredible India, where women like Sita and Kali (both goddesses) are worshipped.

We do love females as our mothers, as our sisters, as our daughters, as our girlfriends and as our wives, then why do we harass other women by passing lewd comments that almost strip her? Why do we tease her? Why do we throw acid at her if she rejects our proposal? Why do we burn her in the open if she rejects our proposal? Why do we force her to feel the same as we feel for her? She too is human; she has her own feelings and priorities. She too has a dream guy whom she will embrace. Why don’t we understand this? Why can’t we let go of our ego? Why don’t we learn to accept rejection?

It is a shame that rapes take place everyday. Rape is a disease which attacks from everywhere to everywhere. It is an evil that has no boundaries. It is present in every nook and corner of the world. It doesn’t differentiate between a 3-year-old kid and an 80-year-old lady. From parties to workplaces to our homes, rape and harassment have become a norm. The survivors of these heinous crimes are then left to be humiliated throughout their life. Some of them even spend their whole “after rape life” on ventilators.

Our society is made fun of when people like Asaram execute rape in the name of God. They bring shame to the community and the country. Their effects of their actions not limited to the survivors but affect the psyche of the whole society especially the female folk. Their actions terrorise the females and make them feel unsafe. Their actions as such are no less than that of a terrorist.

Then there are our irresponsible politicians adding fuel to this by giving immature statements that are unacceptable and uncalled for. Their statements are aimed to inspire rapists. The recent statement of Karnataka Home Minister must have encouraged rapists. There are some people who pass the buck on to the women folk for these rapes. They blame their dressing sense and are of the opinion that women should be put behind the veil, never to see the light of day.

written on card board "Say no to women and children abuse"
Image source: Flickr/governmentZA

India won’t be a great country till every girl child, in every corner feels safe and can walk fearlessly, even at night. We chant a thousand slogans and take pledges to protect the dignity of our women but that never works. Our actions need to speak louder than the words. There have been instances when people risked their lives to protect the dignity of women. The most recent one being a vendor from Haryana who was shot by a goon.

We need to set examples to frustrate the will of rapists. A mechanism needs to be carved till this “rape norm” is depleted. Serious attention is needed to reach a point where there are no rapes. Something extraordinary is necessary to stop men from even thinking of this crime. We are too tolerant towards this evil. We must not wait for some supernatural power to come and eliminate this disease. It is we, the people, who will have to stop thinking that it doesn’t matter till the wave reaches us.

A stringent law is required to cure this disease. Imprisonment, hangings never serve their part. It doesn’t frustrate the will of rapists.  A law which punishes a rapist, such that he remains a live example for the whole society, is the need of the hour. There is also a dire need to introduce “all women” police stations throughout the country. Most of the survivors don’t report it because they don’t feel comfortable with male police. Recently, a gang rape survivor was asked by police, “Who gave you the most pleasure?” If our law enforcing agencies work in this way, then of course no rape survivor will come out in the open.

India is a great country with a great growth rate and is an emerging power. If our life, dignity and honour is at stake, then everything else, including the economy is secondary. Development that doesn’t take care of human dignity, respect and security is but pseudo-development. We have tremendous human capital in the face of females. They can contribute to the development of our country only if they feel safe at their workplace. We need to restore the dignity of the woman in our society and give her the highest status in our society, for Elysium lies beneath her feet. All the men and women with goodwill need to come forward to restore “her” status.