We, as a society, have no right to bow our heads in front of goddesses if we’re going to follow that up with shaming women.
The recent incident at BHU is a window into the world of a woman in India. You would probably think that it is women from the rural areas, uneducated and unaware, that face discrimination, sexual assaults, and violence and that urban women enjoy the luxuries that civilisation and education might offer. But the truth about the purity of ‘Indian Culture’ is that the only criteria required to become a victim of these crimes is to be a woman.
The issue that the girls at BHU are fighting against is not only to complain against harassment, but also the incapacity of the authorities at BHU to take the matter seriously and provide the girls with a secure and protective environment of study. Our honourable prime minister has created an image of the country in the world as this amazingly developing country. Unlike a superpower like the US, we have had women at various positions of power, even as the President and the Prime Minister. We celebrate women as goddesses. On paper, we are a nation that worships women and practises gender equality. The reality, of course. is far from this painted picture. For as far as we can remember, this has been a man’s world. Women have had to fight and protest their way out of the kitchen and into offices only to be denied the same respect and rewards that their male colleagues enjoy.
Even after struggling to get equal rights and respect for so long now, we still have a lot to achieve. Each time a woman is assaulted sexually – be it a groping incident or a rape and murder, it is she who is questioned about her whereabouts, her choice of clothing, her relationship with men and her lifestyle. Because ‘sometimes boys make mistakes’. Even the warden at BHU had the audacity to ask the female student why she was out in response to her complaint of harassment right outside her hostel. Instead of taking any action for the safety of the students, the authorities at BHU had them beaten up.
The reaction of the warden and the VC at BHU is exactly what’s wrong with the country and why we’re nowhere near gender equality. Locking the women up because you’ve failed to teach your sons how to behave is not the solution and is definitely not going to keep us down.
Today, our bra straps and cleavage freak them out. Tomorrow, our presence will offend them. They may not mind going back to the stone age, but we ladies know that we cannot afford to go back under the thumbs of our men. The women before us have fought too hard for the little freedom we enjoy today and it is our duty to do everything we can to do the same for our generations to come.
This piece is written by Nandini Arora as a part of the Safecity writer's movement, she is an aspiring actuary who loves to write. Although married to numbers, her first love has always been books and writing. She regularly writes about issues such as women’s safety, Feminism, LGBTQ etc. on her blognandiniaroraweb.wordpress.com.