Oh Womaniya

*contains explicit language

By now you must have read/heard about the public molestation of a girl in Guwahati (India) by a mob of 20 odd men outside a bar. The reason for annihilation it is believed is that the girl spurned down advances by some of these men in the bar. The moment she stepped out of the bar, the mob pounced on her. A news channel crew recorded the visuals and when they tried to intervene, apparently the mob tried to beat them as well. So the monstrosity went on for full 30 minutes. The news channel released the video without masking the girl’s face thereby revealing her identity to the world (and I have very strong views about this) but also brought forth another case of what the actual ‘aukaat’ of an Indian woman is in the minds of her people. Similar incidents have been reported before as well in Gurgaon and Mumbai.

Now till today I had read/heard about such stories, I somehow ended up watching the Guwahati video and was moved to tears on the helplessness of that girl who was kicked, punched, dragged, stripped, groped and slapped. Later I got to know she is a minor and her only fault is that she said NO. The men were of the age of her father/elder brother/friends. Not one person stepped forth to protect the girl’s dignity. It made me fuck angry and just as scared because it really could be anyone and anywhere. It could be me. It could be the 100 and 1 women I care about. For all you know it could have gone on to the extent that you and I don’t even want to imagine about.

It really does make me angry that I’ve resigned to the fact that my country is not safe for me. I have made changes to the way I live because I want to be ‘safe’. 65 years after my country cinched her freedom; it is my freedom that still remains compromised.

I’ve grown up hearing about and encountering some or the other form of sexual harassment. Be it groping, ass pinching, leching, stalking and verbal abusing, an Indian woman has seen some or all of this in her life time. The earliest recollection that I have of a sexual harassment incident that was recited to me by my mother, who in her childhood witnessed her best friend’s boob being brutally grabbed and pinched. The molesters of course fled and mom’s friend writhed in pain. That’s how my mother set the stage for things I should expect to encounter in my lifetime. I was probably in 4th standard when I heard this story.

I grew up with my share of various forms of sexual harassment from being felt up in a DTC bus to being abused in the choicest Hindi expletives about my body parts all the way till I got home just because I abused a man for abusing me in the first place. I remember not stepping out of my house for almost a week because I was scared to run into that man again. Till date I regret not pelting stones at him. Till date I am acutely aware of the fact that I was the only one fighting my battle, in my 5’3”, 48 kg frame against men nearly twice my frame.

The best part is that I know it’s still not over. I’ve moved from DTC bus to my car, from Delhi to Bombay, but I still get verbally abused by taxi/auto drivers when I’m returning home late from the airport. My parents still freak out if I’m traveling alone irrespective of which ever part of the world I am in. I still get into arguments with my husband about returning at a ‘safe hour’ when I’m out with my friends alone. There’s always fear, always and rightfully so. For Keenan’s and Reuben’s murderers still roam scot free and girls still get blamed for ‘starting a fight’. I can’t fight with my husband or my parents to stop worrying about me for I can take care of myself because even I’m worried about my safety at the back of my mind.

I fail to understand why our government does not take quick and strict actions against molesters. Anyway a small of fraction of incidents gets reported, even a smaller fraction of molesters gets identified. Punish in ways that establishes fear in the minds of men who think it is okay to harass a woman because ‘koi kya hi ukhaad lega’. Castration/capital punishment/public humiliation/anything that takes harassing a woman out of consideration set because of game theory principles, because Indian men don’t get the moral offense in doing so and they don’t understand the concept of respecting a woman.

While everyone laughed their guts out in the Faisal and Mohsina permisan scene from Gangs of Wasseypur, people didn’t get the concept of permisan. The simple fact that every person (and that includes all women) has a personal space. In the case of women the space is quite literal. Admittance in that space in concept is by the will of the woman, even for a woman who takes money to do so. Indian men just don’t get it. They don’t understand the will of the woman. They only get the will of their dick that in turn is fuelled by years of alpha male indoctrination and women subjugation. Couple this with fear of what will the society say and weak law enforcement; you have the perfect haven for one of the world’s worst places for women.

This overall lack of respect for women and their objectification thereby fuelling their subjugation is rampant across all strata of society. It pisses me off when the educated at the elite wash their hands off it. The thought that they aren’t aware of what they are propagating disturbs me even more. I’m sure there must be people who used to take offense at words such as bhenchod/madarchod/betichod and the latest maushichigand before these words became common parlance. Does it not bother you that every time you pass a smart comment about a girl’s gand/ass/choothad, there might be another harami who might be using the same words to describe your mother or your sister or your wife? Let a girl eat an ice cream or a banana in peace man! She’s definitely not thinking about blowing you. The next time you are debating the size of a girl’s rack with your friends, hold your comment and spend that energy worrying about what will you do about your moobs. There’s a way of looking at a girl to show your appreciation for her beauty without making her uncomfortable, learn it. While you are busy carelessly leching her, in her mind she’s doing 50,000 permutations and combinations on how to safely get home – it’s agonizing, take my word. When a girl gives you the permission to enter her personal space, she’ll open her heart for you and pull out all stops. Ask your friend who is married/in a dedicated relationship-it is beautiful, take their word not mine. But if she says no, understand a no is a no. If you don’t get the sanctity of that no, you might as well buy yourself an inflatable doll. Finally, for the love of the women in your life, the next time you see a woman fighting against sexual harassment (and if you open your eyes, you’ll see this more often that you think you would) please consider it to be your fight, don’t leave her to fight her own battles. Don’t make her beg for help and if she does don’t just be a spectator.

I was in Ladakh a few weeks back. I ran into a solo biker from Germany, her name was Corrina. She was planning on biking all over Ladakh for 15 days, all by herself. I envied her, for I couldn’t imagine doing what she was doing in my own country. I’m probably a cynic for life and will always be hedged and always be guarded. Even though I probably wouldn’t do something similar, but the thought of being able to do so without worrying about my safety is a good thought.

In all these years I’ve come to believe that for our Bharat Mata, Gau Mata worshipping men, they are all at the end of the day products of Adam’s asshole. Trust me I’d be grateful if I’m proven wrong in my lifetime.

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