Saturday, March 8, 2014

Am I asking for too much?

I was 17. Happy. My friends and I were out celebrating Holi when, out of nowhere, my breasts were groped. I was horrified and looked straight in the eye of my molester, someone I knew from my colony and whom I called "bhaiya". He looked back at me unflinchingly and even dared to flash a sly smile. I was shaken, mentally and physically, but I didn’t tell anyone except a friend who is now my husband. He confronted this man and warned him. But this incident angered me for years, even more so when I had to cross paths with the man almost daily, as we lived in the same housing society.
I was 18. Excited. Nervous. It was my first day of college. A new life was calling out to me. I took the DTC bus. Ignoring the leering men, I managed to stand beside the already occupied ‘reserved for ladies’ seat. Then, I felt someone thrust his pelvis behind me. I elbowed him and managed to create some distance. But he did it again. I looked back sternly. It was an elderly man. He repeated the act a third time. I yelled. He turned and managed to disappear into the sweltering crowd.
Unfortunately, every girl and woman has faced a similar situation at least once in her life. These incidents, along with the numerous cautions and curfews imposed on us by our loved ones out of fear for our lives, have made us accept this way of life. We navigate through our own cities in constant fear. But can should we live like that? Should we give in to these fears and walk in our own city suspecting every passerby, looking over our shoulders every minute, struggling to move past the leering men, dodging the groping hands? This fear, this insecurity and lack of confidence to move about freely in our own city – isn’t that a basic denial of our rights?
In today’s age where a Nirbhaya or a Shakti Mills gang-rape incident is a bitter truth, it is understandable to be more cautious, more aware, more guarded. But I refuse to live this kind of ‘protected’ life. I don’t need my men to treat me as a mere daughter, sister, wife, or friend, where they feel it is their duty to protect me.
I need my men to treat me equally, with respect and dignity like any human being, and not as an object! I don’t need the government and the institutions to limit the time I can stay outdoors; I need them to be more sensitive to women’s wants and provide for an infrastructure that allows us to walk freely.
As a woman in the twentieth century, am I being too whimsical to hope for a society free from gender discrimination? From innate stereotypes, even those as seemingly harmless as ‘girls like pink’? From the deeply ingrained patriarchal mindset? Am I asking the state for too much when I demand a safe public transport system connecting even the remotest of places and running till late in the night, a police force that actually cares and reacts for, rather than against, a woman’s complaints, a street well light at all the times without any faults, public toilets which are clean and well-managed without closing as early as 10pm, assuming that a woman’s bladder can hold in after that time?
Am I asking for too much?
This article was first published in DNA India on 13th January 2014.

53 comments:

  1. I agree with your thoughts, Aditi, and no you are not asking too much.
    it is the right of each individual whether man or woman to be safe. Unfortunately women are the weaker sex so, gotta give them the protection.

    happy woman's day!

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    1. Yes everyone deserves that dignity of life, men or women, we need to feel safe, loved, respected in our own cities! It is sad that we women have to fight for what is rightfully ours!

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  2. I completely agree with you and no you aren't asking for too much!
    It's our right to live our lives with dignity and respect.

    We need protection not only from such perverts but also other women sometimes!! And that's the sad reality of our times! :-/

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    1. It is sad Pixie. But I like to think there is hope, with so many women raising their voices, choosing not to remain silent, choosing not live that kind of 'protected' life...i believe there is hope and we can be the change and inspire change!

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  3. You are spot on, Aditi and no you aren't asking too much. It is sad that what is our basic right, we need to ask for it, fight for it!!

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  4. Half the population cannot live in fear when they stir out of their houses.The atmosphere should be conducive to their safety and security and their freedom to move about freely.I wish that day is not far off.

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    1. I wish, hope and pray the same too Sir!

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  5. Aditi,you are not asking for too much. We as women have not to ask. It is our RIGHT. It is so sad that even crooks have their way. and no body is there to teach them a lesson.

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    1. Yes Usha ji, we need stricter laws for sure. Hope we see a change soon!

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  6. The answer to your question is no, it's not too much for you to ask. We should be treated on equal terms as the opposite gender.

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  7. Too much? No. Part of the society we live in? Unfortunately. Way to tackle a difficult topic and bring it to light.

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  8. you are very right.and not at all asking more.but the thing is we are done with asking.we should take from them.make them realize.hit them where it hurts.very intriguing post dxbnidblog

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  9. Absolutely not! That is so disgusting! Why is that? (sorry, I am the foreigner her u know..:-) ) Still, it makes me really sad and angry to read your description... (and the way you tell it really engage me..) It should be a natural thing for all citizens to be able to walk around in society.. Protection yes, but how to change the mindset of guys like that? Have a wonderful women's day Aditi, and thanks for sharing your story and thoughts:-)

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    1. Thanks Eli! How to change the mindset of such men you ask, well that ques I think is ingrained in the strong patriarchal mindset of Indian society. Women need to courageously break out of this web that has been spun over centuries, make their voices heard!

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  10. You are not asking too much, Aditi. Here in America, while those things do happen under certain circumstances, the incidences are much less frequent; I don't feel fearful when I go places, even when I've traveled on my own. Of course, there are always those neighborhoods to avoid if one has common sense, but for the most part, women are granted equal protection under the law.
    Again, you are definitely NOT asking for too much!

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    1. Thanks Martha for sharing your views about your city. I hope we get what is ours soon!

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  11. Mumbai was earlier considered safe for women to travel alone in public transports even at odd hours. But lately this image has taken a beating in light of the innumerable cases of shameful acts where the perpetrators of the crime are not held responsible but the female section held responsible for travelling un-escorted at odd hours or 'inviting ' upon herself the punishment. Isn't the patriarchal mindset working overtime? No it is not too much to expect a safe and free atmosphere where no individual fears for their life and dignity. This is a basic right of a human.

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    1. Exactly Kalpana...so sad this is! And it is pathetic when ques are raised at a woman! Mindless patriarchal morons!

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  12. Harsh realities of a women's life!!

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  13. No Aditi, you havent asked too much.. but considering the situation we are living today, it seems like a distant distant dream.. The incidents you described, I am sure most of us have faced at some time or the other.. I have too.. Yes, it has angered me as well. I still remember one such incident when I was may be 13-14 and it enrages me even today.. Just why does it have to be like that ???

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    1. Jyotsna I hope that it doesn't remain a dream for long! And all of us can help change that. Not keep quiet at any form of violence or discrimination...each voice will make a difference!

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  14. It's sad how there is a lack of laws to protect women in our society. Such things anger me as a human being where men use sex to overpower a woman. This is how inequality creeps in. Our half-baked legislations comes as the main culprit where perv wreck havoc fearlessly.

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    1. True Vishal we need stricter laws! High time!

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  15. Stricter laws dont really act as a deterrent. 99% of the time, crimes happen only because the culprit senses he can get away easily. What you have to do is be alert and raise an alarm if u sense something amiss. Something like what you did in the bus.

    Cheers
    CRD

    Do visit mine.
    www.scriptedinsanity.blogspot.com

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    1. Agreed we should never keep mum!

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  16. I read it then, and I read it now, and I'm still shocked and ashamed. But enough is enough, and hopefully things will start to get better and we will see a day where women can walk out on the streets without being leered at or be seen just as sexual objects. Haven't been to your blog in a while Aditi, but promise to be a regular. Just to make you keep writing more !

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    1. Yes Sid enough is enough. We are living on the word 'Hope'.
      Thanks! Keep stopping by and pushing me!

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  17. No, you are not asking for too much. Women should have all these rights, and they will as things are changing. People are listening and laws are being made to ensure the safety of women. We also need to confront those threatening us and raise an alarm when our personal space is invaded, stop them from even thinking about harming us. Great write up, Aditi.

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    1. Thank u Sulekha :) Yes laws are changing for the better! But we need to claim our spaces! Enough is enough!

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  18. Nope , you are not asking too much. Women should have all these rights and more. The men who do such things are pigs, period. They should be held accountable for their actions. How would they like it if we grabbed them by the balls and tried to pull them off?? Yeah, I don't think they would. All women should carry a purse filled with bricks for just those occasions. Oh what a good swing of that purse would do!!!!

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  19. And it is Sad how we are still blamed for being molested or groped.Such a sad sad state of affairs!
    The mentality need a change.
    And no you are not asking for much.
    I welcome myself to your blog :D

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  20. This is a great post. No, you're not asking for too much. These are basic human rights that should be granted to women. And much more. I hope the situation for women improves in your country. Good for you on speaking up :)

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    1. Thanks Loredana. Yes things ate improving here slowly coz more women are speaking up!

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  21. I was nodding along furiously with every single line. Yes, you are right. Why must we live like this? Are we doomed to be groped, leered at, ogled and be viewed as objects of pleasure all our lives, through generations? Time we did something about this! Excellent piece, Aditi!

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    1. Thanks Shailaja. Yes enough is enough! No more keeping quiet now...

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  22. You are spot on Aditi and not asking for much...equality is something we do strive for and not just because we are someone's sister/daughter/mother or anything else! Loved the post and was agreeing with everything you said as well as empathising with the moments on the bus...been there and had it happen...

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    1. We've all been there I guess...it is just sad state of affairs n only we can help ourselves...need to find our voice!

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  23. I agree with you and no we are definitely not asking too much ...maybe its time we just snatch what is ours!!

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  24. every word you have said is true.. you are not asking much, but the basic things.. and honestly I do not see hope, I am just sad and disappointed..

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    1. Together we can and we will. Don't loose hope...not now!

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