In New Delhi, on a crowded bus route a 23 year old girl returning from a movie with a guy friend at 9.30 pm was raped and beaten and indescribably tortured by a group of six drunken men, who first got rid of her friend by knocking him unconscious.
HOW did they have the nerve to rape a woman while driving through a busy traffic route?
WHY were the glasses of their bus tinted, when tinted glasses are not allowed?
WHY were the lights in a public bus turned off?
WHERE was the police? Did NOBODY notice a suspicious bus driving through with no lights on and the windows darkened?
And more importantly, now that the entire nation is outraged, why are two of these six men still on the run?
A few months ago, further northeast, in Guwahati, Assam, India a teenage girl returning from a bar after a friend’s birthday, was molested on a busy street by a crowd of men. The whole incident was recorded on camera by a T.V. reporter and aired.
Guwahati’s C.M. Tarun Gogoi‘s office accidentally released this girl’s name during a press conference.
The editor-in-chief of the channel which aired the episode, resigned but maintained that his reporter did nothing wrong.
The media hype surrounding these incidents and the public outrage they led to forced the police to capture the criminals in both cases.
But it is deeply sickening and highly shameful for all the women and for all the decent men in our country that episodes like these take place here, not in some remote corner where the police’s negligence and incompetence may still be overlooked, but in the heart of our biggest cities, in the bloodline of our country’s capital.
Ask any girl you know: when she is out on the streets, does she not have to endure the jeers and stares and glares of a bucketload of sick men? Ask any woman who uses public transport, has she never been groped in the heat of the crowd?
If any of us have travelled alone or with girl friends, even a little, we have most definitely suffered some form of sexual abuse. The sad part is that these incidents are not seen as being the cause of great tragedy, not even by the girls who are at the receiving end because they have been conditioned to accept this as normal, because they have been subjected to it so often.
The sad truth is, in a country which is struggling so hard to still rise above so many prejudices against women, where the issues of education and healthcare and abortion and sati are still alive and thriving, where sexuality is beginning to be considered a weapon in the hands of a girl and clothing is dictated by the glares of these undeserving, worthless men on the roads and curfews are placed not on these men but on the girls, our men- even our educated men are still unaware of the struggles that women undergo on a day-to-day basis.
The streets of our country are unsafe and the retorts people come up with are varied and outrageous.
Women have no business being out alone in a street at midnight.
Women should dress carefully; women who show even a little bit of cleavage are asking for it; they might even be said to be lusting for it.
Women shouldn’t be drinking.
Women shouldn’t be moving around without escorts or with only male friends, because the male friend might be the one to take advantage of a dark alley.
Shouldn’t men, instead be the ones to not be drinking, the ones to not be allowed outside alone after a certain time?
In my institute, even wearing capris to class is frowned upon. But what does this mean, when professors ask us to cover up our ankles and thighs? It merely means that they themselves have no bloody self control.
And how do we fight all this? We post things on Facebook, we conduct long-winding debates and offer dozens of suggestions about how the situation can be reformed. We hold rallies and protests and demonstrations. But at the end of it all, we go back to simply putting up with it because that’s how hard it is for men to change, for men to stop being savage animals, for men to control even vestiges of sexual lust.
If every women in our country got drunk at the same time and all the men were to be locked up, much less violence would ensue than the amount we face day-to-day.
So we need to prepare ourselves in self-defense because that is the best chance we have of beating them. And by them I mean these beasts you see out on the streets everyday, who are fantasizing about you, who wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of you, who are secretly desiring having you right there and then. Sexual desire drives every man, no matter how hard we deny it, no matter how difficult it is to be a girl and believe this; it could be us instead of her right now, battling for life while a nation prays for justice.
The only ones we can rely upon our ourselves. Because behind long hours of debates and outrageous cries for justice, is a system which will take years to deliver and might never get us where we want to be. Sometimes it is foolish to dream it would. But we can’t lose hope.
Carry a pepper spray. Carry a bludgeon, if you will. Aim for their balls, hit them where it might hurt forever, even if they walk away, even if you die. Learn some self-defense. And do everything you can to protect the other women and girls around you.
Our God-given smaller size and comparitively delicate bodies shouldn’t be a punishment. We need to be respected too. Don’t let them destroy you.
Prayer for that girl fighting for her life in Delhi, the girl who wants to live and see justice happen.