The school day was coming to a close when I was pulled out of class to speak to the headmistress. My friends had been missing for hours, and she wanted to know where they were.
“Beta, you have to understand. This is a security issue. Anything could happen.”
Later they are found, and it’s revealed that they were simply skipping class. But her words remain in my mind.
Anything could happen.
Of course these words are not exactly a surprise. After the Ryan International case of November 2017, everyone has been on edge.
Once upon a time, school was supposed to be a sanctuary. A safe place, meant for learning. According to Delhi Police, 60% of sexual assault cases are linked to schools, and 30% of staff is verified by police. There are four incidents of child sex abuse every hour. 510 of these cases occurred on campus, or involved school staffers.
Not only does this speak of the negligence which is often prevalent in schools, but it also brings to light a culture of pedophilia in India.
In various cases, the victims are as young as four years old, whereas the perpetrators are often 40-something men.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women will be raped some point in their lifetime.
Pulling away from just a bunch of numbers, I want you to think of these statistics as human beings, because they are.
I am in a friend group of five girls. According to this, one of us will have to endure what I would describe as the worst possible thing in the world at some point of our lives.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been taught certain things that my male counterparts have not.
Never go out alone at night.
Never wear anything revealing the teensiest bit of skin when you’re going out.
Be careful which men you trust—and never trust them fully, because many rape cases happen because of our brothers, our best friends, our teachers, our boyfriends, and the list goes on.
Now, I’m not blaming my parents for this at all. Of course, all every parent wants is for their child to be safe. But what I’m trying to say is that there will always be a girl in a worse part of town, out later than me, with fewer girlfriends, wearing something shorter. I don’t want it for her either.
When we say things like “Don’t wear that out so late“, not only are we inadvertently encouraging victim blaming, we’re simply running away from the problem, and passing it on to one of our sisters.
In a culture of victim blaming and the worst things happening to women everyday, we have to treat every woman like she is our sister. I will admit, I myself have been a real asshole in the past, and I’m not saying you have to like every woman you encounter—believe me, I sure don’t. But we must defend each other against misogyny.