TW: Mention of sexual harassment, rape
One of the most common practices in India involves noticing, talking about, or discussing the attire, dressing style, as well as the size of clothing of girls. Every time we hear of an incident of sexual violence involving a woman, the very first thing that is asked is along the lines of, “What was she wearing at the time of the incident?” Is this the solution to decreasing rape cases in the country?
Why would anyone believe that the clothes of a woman are responsible for her being raped? Every now and then, we see the term “short dresses” pop up in these discussions. Women and girls are constantly criticised for wearing “short” or “indecent” clothes. Recently, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Tirath Singh Rawat made a controversial remark: “The women wearing ripped jeans will impart the same values in her children.”
While this is a fairly recent occurrence, this is hardly anything unheard of. Vulgar statements are frequently made by the public regarding the clothes worn by women. Often, people are heard saying that the reason for such incidents happening with girls is because of the clothes they were wearing.
But then, certain things should be taken into consideration. Women face sexual violence when they are only five years old, and even when they are as old as fifty or more. Does this also happen because of their wrong “dressing sense”? What was the fault of that small girl, was she in a short dress? Even a woman clad in burqa has to face the same harassment by men several times in public places.
Surprisingly, even women taunt other women in the same vein and make crass remarks about the latter deserving to be raped for wearing short dresses. When even women of the country have this stereotypical and narrow mindset, then something definitely has to be done.
The main thing that needs to be understood is the depth of the scenario, and the reason behind increasing rape cases taking place. It is not the dresses of women but their perceived obscenity to men which makes the dressing of women unsuitable to the latter. Men often wear revealing clothing in public, so why don’t women misbehave with them?
Wearing short clothes does not give you the license to harass a woman, sexually or otherwise. Men often remark, in an unsolicited manner, that girls wearing tight jeans arouse them. This shows the objectifying mentality of the people. By this, I can only stress that nobody should judge a woman’s character, family values or level of education based on the clothes they wear. If males are free to wear clothes of their choice without any pushback from society, then why are women subjected to the same? Their desires and freedom to wearing clothes of their own agency should be equally respected by everyone.