Rights. Demands. Safety. And some other stuff.

7:59 pm

 This is a picture I found on somebody's profile on Facebook today. And of course, it was sparked by the recent brutal rape case that took place in New Delhi on the 16th. Everyone I know, everyone I see is talking about this case everywhere I go. And I mean everyone. As always, there have been a series of debates, discussions, muft ka gyaan and people's on view points that have emerged after such a ghastly incident. I am no one to judge since that is precisely what I am doing right here.

As far as my own observations go, this time round, some things are different. For one, I have never seen the people this angry. Well, okay, so maybe that isn't entirely true. People were this angry (and for good reason) after the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks. I suppose it shows that a lot of people understand that gang raping a woman and leaving her to die is equivalent, in deed, to terrorism. Rape cases and the idea of big-bad-wolf of a rapist lurking about in every corner were ideas that I think every girl in India is aware of. Ever since I moved to New Delhi, and would not wear boy-trousers to school in winters (but skirts--they were "fashionable"), my parents would first argue about the dropping temperatures of Delhi and when that would fail (I could tolerate the cold, I'd say), they'd throw in the ultimate Delhi-Is-Not-Safe-For-Women. After this incident, we have become all the more aware of something that we already were aware of (and reluctantly had admitted as a part of every-day life; we didn't like it, but what was there to do but be "safe" and "cautious"?). This woman in question was cautious. She wasn't even alone (and her companion was a guy) nor was it at an unearthly hour. Her incident has shaken all of us, because it could've been any of us. And there was nothing you could do about it.

The other day I was walking (in broad daylight--11 am) from the British Council Library to the Barakhamba Road Metro Station, a short walk, but as I was walking I passed several men, going about their usual life. And I thought, normally, I won't feel this unsafe. Normally, I'd see this particular side lane filled with 5-6 men and I'd think that there are people around and no one would dare harm me. This time, however, I thought, "But what if they're all rapists? What if they're all in it together? It happened to her. It could happen to anyone."

And I was scared.

This incident has produced such an outrage among the public. There have been three protests in less than a week in which most of the people involved were students. What is worth mentioning is that (at least for most part of it) all of these have been what's been called a "peaceful protest". This protest shows us one more thing: like the picture above states, this is not just a women's issue. It affects everybody. It scars and shames everybody. It inflicts pain on everybody. In fact the person I took that photograph from is a guy and he went for two protests at the India Gate. So there. People are demanding for better security, tighter laws and for the six culprits who raped the girl in this case (took out her intestines and left her die) to be hanged for their sin.

My friend from Chandigarh messaged me yesterday and we talked about the protest that took place yesterday at India Gate. She said something about her gathering from all that she saw on the news about how risky going to the protest was. And I said, Well, yes. But, honestly, not as scary as walking on the road alone even in broad daylight.

I have one more request, demand, what have you. I wish that all people were taught from early on, about issues regarding gender sensitivity. Women are objectified on a daily basis everywhere and this phenomena is being normalised. I am shocked and disgusted each time I switch on my TV and I see some "comedy" shows with "comedians" cracking "jokes"on women and their sexuality. And I hear people on TV with doldrums, laughing at those jokes. I mean, really, what the...! Trivializing women's sexuality and crimes against them is NOT okay. It is not funny.

To support my argument, I'd like to share a friend's Facebook status after yesterday's protest:
 There's a man holding a poster at the protest that reads "..., ek kaam karo, choodiyan pehenke naacho". So we're still using effeminate symbolism as a slur against men? Because being called a woman is clearly degrading to the ..., or any other man, yes? All this at a protest demanding basic rights for women. Brilliant. (I have not written any name and written "..." instead because unlike this man, I do not wish to defame anyone.)

  I know this person who must be well in his fifties, he teaches people and in his class, he cracks "harmless" jokes on women. I am not saying that he means to sound rude or that he is the sort who would be alright with crimes against women. All I am saying is that every time one cracks a joke trivializing women, whether or not he intends it, he is insulting and normalizing crimes against women. 

My request as a human being and as a woman is simply this: if you support this cause, if you want this victim to get true justice, is you want crimes against women to stop, stop trivializing women. Stop objectifying them. Stop projecting them as vulnerable things that can either exploited or locked up and "saved".

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