I opened the papers today to the details about the horrific rape and murder of a 27-year-old Hyderabad based veterinary doctor, whose charred remains were recovered by the police. As per a reportin The Indian Express, the vet’s two-wheeler had a flat tire around nine at night on Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway. She was ambushed and dragged into the bushes barely 50 metres from Tondupally toll plaza, says the police. This news yet again raises concerns over the issue of women’s safety across India, which seems irk a certain section of the society, who claims that we are over-reacting. Of course, India is safe for women, there’s nothing to worry about. As long as women are ready to make compromises with their lifestyle they’ll be safe. So, ladies if you want to avoid trouble, don’t stay out after dark, always wear “decent” clothes and never put your dignity in “risk” by venturing out alone to hostile places. No one wants to talk about male sexual entitlement, and how patriarchy has made it easy for sexual predators to get away with grievous crimes, by conveniently putting the onus of women’s safety on their own shoulders.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The gruesome rape and murder of a Hyderabad veterinary doctor has raised concerns over the sexual safety of women again.
  • But instead of questioning male sexual entitlement, society proceeds to police women.
  • Don’t step out in the dark alone, we are told. Or take a secluded route. 
  • When will we accept that the problem lies with the virulent predatory behaviour of Indian men which patriarchy continues to indulgently ignore?

No one wants to talk about male sexual entitlement, and how patriarchy has made it easy for sexual predators to get away with grievous crimes, by conveniently putting the onus of women’s safety on their own shoulders.

As a result of this, women have to make innumerable compromises in their lifestyle, in order to stay safe. Commuting after sunset is a nightmare for most women, especially if you take a route that is risky or secluded. Back when I used to work as a locum at a clinic in Pune I had to travel ten kilometers (one way) to commute. However at night, I had to take a route five kilometers longer than my usual commute just for the safetyfactor. So I drove fifteen kilometers every single night, through the stagnant city traffic, because the alternative short cut was risky. We women pay for our sexual safety with time, money, energy and mental peace, something that no one talks about. But then even that is not enough to keep us safe.

ALSO READ: Why Is Male Rape Not Considered A Serious Offence?

Even on a two-wheeler, one feels vulnerable, when passing through a desolate area. Darkness has become a monster, we are told to be wary of. Girls are discouraged from taking coaching lessons for which they’d have to travel in the dark. Women are discouraged from working nightshifts, which sometimes costs them their employment.

No girl should have to compromise with her education due to fear of sexual crimes. No woman should stay bound at home, or have to rethink what she wears, or says or talks about, every time she ventures out in the world.

I used to make fun of my mother when she would scold me for not messaging her every night when I got home. Now with a growing daughteron my hands, I understand what it must feel like, to let your child walk into a hostile world, where god knows what awaits them. And yet, the burden of making compromises solely rests on girls and women in India. Well guess what, it shouldn’t.

No girl should have to compromise with her education due to fear of sexual crimes. No woman should stay bound at home, or have to rethink what she wears, or says or talks about, every time she ventures out in the world. She shouldn’t have to worry about her sexual safety and life on a desolate road at nine in the night. It is the society that is responsible for breeding the monsters that lurk out at night, stalkingand preying on vulnerable women. It is we who told them that it was wrong of women to step outside after dark, to stop at a secluded place, to ask for help from strangers, to ride a scooty, to smile at strangers, to laugh, to reject romantic advances, to be confident and to ignore you. If sexual predators think in their heads that they have done nothing wrong in preying on such women, instead blaming them for their own plight, then it is we the society who are at fault.

Don’t make a monster out of the darkness or distance to scare women into submission. Don’t shirk away your responsibility as a society and then show outrage on social media when statistics call India an unsafe place for women. Instead, raise your boys right. Tell them that nothing justifies rape, harassment or sexual abuse. The onus of the crime lies on the shoulder of those who commit it, and those who let them get away with it.

ALSO READ: Why Indian Women Need to Claim Sexual Agency in their Marriages

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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