When you walk, you are looking back over your shoulder, your eyes searching for anyone trying to get too close. When we walk out to the road, we find spots under the street light to hail a cab or auto. When we are in a car we pretend we are completely busy but totally peeled on the map, the road, the eyes of the driver through the rear view. Don’t know if women ever, ever stop thinking of their ‘safety’ because really are they ever safe? Why do we have to live in fear?

The country is outraged at a young woman’s rape and murder. On a highway in Hyderabad. Near a toll plaza. A woman whose scooty broke down was raped, murdered and burnt. A poll in the SheThePeople community is calling for death for the perpetrators. Some of us couldn’t sleep last night. It could be any one of us. Go to work and get raped while returning home. Read that again.

Women across India can’t believe just what is going so wrong in our country. “Men rape women. Other men get online and threaten to rape women for not making enough noise on rape. What do you want losers? It’s not a communal issue, it’s gender issue. If you want to make a change, start with yourself. We are raising sons the wrong way in this country,” actor Richa Chadha says.

“Who is India’s daughter? What does she look like?” asks Shaili Chopra, entrepreneur and journalist. “In my head I am fearless, fierce and firebrand. In my surroundings, I am careful, conscious and cursed. As India’s rape epidemic grips mental conscience of the nation, we ought to plastering the front pages with blunt questions. Why are we letting this happen to us?”

What Are Women Saying?

  • Every time I leave my house, I am just on guard for my own safety. Radhika Pillai, Delhi
  • She was coming home from work. She wanted help. Rape is what she got. Just let that sink in. Arindrita Bhuptani, Kolkata
  • I think really hard about how people will think I am dressed. I don’t dress for myself, but I am forced to dress for how the society expects me to. And safety for myself is a big reason for that. – Antara Mathew, Gurgaon
  • I am raising two girls but I would never ask them not to go out. I always tell them that the world is kind enough and it has a place for everybody. But I am more intrigued by the fact that men go so weak that they can’t hold their sexual libido for a few more minutes. Kena Shree, Lucknow
  • I even have to wear jewellery that has button to call for safety. I mean cmon, what all must I do for my safety in a free country? Felicity Peres, Mumbai
  • This rape and murder will make headlines. Remember Kathua rape case did. Nirbhaya too. But what has changed? – Ritu Pritam, Chennai
  • I consider myself an empowered woman but every time I am in a public space, where there are a bunch of guys, I am scared to cross them. I feel vulnerable. My stomach churns with fear. This is what lack of safety has done to us. Poorvi Gupta, Faridabad

We need to take notice of India’s rape epidemic – Shaili Chopra

Scary Statistics

What Are We Waiting For?

Are we waiting for policies? Will they ever come? What can policies do? Kena Shree, author and mom to two, says “no justice can happen until some strict policies come to implementation. Punishment should be more than just a capital punishment, it should be more than just convicted and persecuted. Justice needs to be served much faster. Perpetrators must have the fear that they cannot even think of it.”

Men, Mindsets

Men who adhere to rigid, sexist stereotypes of how to be a man are more likely to use and tolerate violence against women according to this article. On the other hand, men with more flexible, gender-equitable ideas about manhood are more likely to treat women with respect. And promoting healthy, more flexible models of masculinity is an important way to end domestic and sexual violence. The article adds, that one key set of factors is to do with masculinity, that is, the attitudes and behaviours stereotypically associated with being a man. Longstanding ideals about manhood include ideas that men should be strong, forceful, and dominant in relationships and households. Men should be tough and in control, while women are lesser, or even malicious and dishonest.

Every Single Day

Election activist Tara Krishnaswamy put out a post talking of how women navigate their day dealing with safety challenges. And it would make each one of us think.

“When you get into a taxi at 8 PM, you fish out your phone.
When I get into a taxi at 8 PM, I take a photo of the license before I enter.

When you’re in the taxi at night, you’re looking out or playing a game or on social media.
When I have to be in a taxi at night, I am simulating a ring, faking a conversation, updating my whereabouts so the driver doesn’t get any ideas.

When you leave for home late at night, you do just that; get home & get to sleep.
When I have to leave for home late at night; I arrange for a friend to await my “got home” text.”

You can probably add many more such examples in the thread. But we ought to ask ourselves.

Who is India’s daughter? What could she look like? She is the girl who wants to start on her own two feet, have her own mind and speak, express, dress as she pleases. She is that person who wanted to have ambitions, go to work, drive herself, trust others, believe that people will help her. Not rape her. How, dear India, do you fail your daughter, so often?

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