Women, are we safe in our own country?


An anniversary that shudders our mind, a memory that sends chills down the spine, its two years since Nirbhaya, the Delhi brave heart and India’s brave fighter, left her mortal life after days of resilient battle against the horrific injuries that were inflicted on her. While namesake memorial meetings and candle light marches happen all around the capital city today, her tormented soul is yet to receive justice for heinous and bloodcurdling gang-rape that shook the entire nation. The huge street protests that followed the dreadful sexual assault did bring the nation to a standstill for many days, and forced authorities to initiate at least a few baby steps, hoping to making Delhi a more safer place for women. But sadly, nothing has changed since that fateful December 16th, and nor do I believe things would change until we introduce and implement stronger laws to protect women from being subjected to sexual crimes.

damini

I often notice that men who get caught in sexual assault cases are absolutely remorseless, and relish every bit of their presence in front of public, as well as print and visual media. This fearlessness results from the unwavering confidence that keeps assuring them that they can easily get away with their lives, no matter how heinous their crimes are. Irrespective of having several fast track courts that assure speedy verdicts in such sensitive cases, no swift judgement has been taken in many of the cases, and no tough sentence have been given to any of the culprits .Ravagers continue to disregard the rules of law, keep pouncing on more women each day, yet  often get off scot-free. While most of the court case take more than 10 years to deliver the verdict, surmounting the pain and sadness of the wronged, crimes again women keen multiplying each day, making women in our country feel utterly helpless and trivial.

No matter whether it’s a city or a lesser fast-paced town, women across the country face sexual ordeals of one kind or the other each day. Catcalling, name calling, leers, shouting, brushing against the body, whistling, grouping, or touching inappropriately, and I can go on about the atrocious abuses that women are subjected to, even in broad day light. As I walk towards the hostel each day, from the bus stop, I can see at least a dozen of who stare at me, pass lewd comments, or try to walk past me while aiming at brushing against my body, during the less-than 10 minutes walk. Even offices turn out equally unsafe, when that stealthily smiling colleague stares at upper part of the body while asking a doubt, or that supposedly ‘decent’ male friend of tries to cunningly brush his hands against our body while climbing down the steps.

While these humiliating incidents are happening in the peak hours of the day, I shudder to think what women are facing during the post-evening hours when our roads have lesser amount of crowd. As the patriarchal community around us keep remarking on the dresses that lure men to committing sexual harassment, let me tell you this in no uncertain words – no matter whether a woman is full clad or barely dressed, no women have the luxury to walk through our streets without being harassed even once.

While Nirbhaya was the talk of the nation, I could hear many of my friends dissecting the incident based on several ‘what if’s that they believe could have averted that barbaric act. What if she had not traveled so late, what if she had refrained from boarding a bus with hardly a few men, what if she hadn’t been accompanied by a male companion, and so on. Did her choices resulted in what happened to her on that fateful day? No, absolutely not! A woman’s commuting choices are immaterial in a country that’s filled with men who carry the worst facet of overblown sense of masculinity.

For me, leery looks and lecherous comments have turned out to become day today happenings, but like many others, I never react to the taunts or speak back to the hooligan who passes lascivious comments at me. Call me a coward for not standing up for my freedom, and I would say that my safety is obviously my prime priority, however, fearing of a possibly dangerous outcome in the form of a vengeance-filled assault or a violent acid attack prevents me from giving a ferocious reply. Thus I keep calming my mind and walk past the ruffians who comment or stare at me in utmost inappropriate ways. There were even times when I had frustratingly wished for an opportunity to leave the country for ever and move to a safer place where I am not subjected to such harassment each day.

“I will insert a rod into your stomach if you report this,” As I read this terrifying threat that the Uber cab driver told the survivor who was brutally raped, I cannot help but think about the unfathomable amount of pain that Nirbhaya had to face on that fateful day.

With the current state of chaos that prevails in most of the cities and towns, I don’t think many women would come forward to report the harassment that she is being subjected to each day. This increases the brazen confidence of men to commit worst sexual barbarities each day. Nothing but strong laws, along with the timely and rightful implementation of them can change the current scary scenario of our country where no women, young or old find it safe, even in broad day light.  While I write this post, simultaneously watching news broadcasts that telecast the horrific experiences that women journalists underwent while filming about the unsafe circumstances that prevail in some of the top metros in the country, I still hope for a day when stronger and well-framed laws with zero loop holes are implemented, making men think twice before outraging the modesty of women whom they come across.

PS – While many countries around the world take adequate steps to publicize the list of sexual offenders in each city, thus increasing public awareness, both the society and media in our country and more than keener on knowing the victim, her kith and kin and the ways in which she was victimized. Sadism? Patriarchy? I am yet to decipher the right way of depicting this strange mind-set of people around me.

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