A 35-year-old woman from the Dausa district of Rajasthan was allegedly gangraped and murdered by two men, who had offered her a lift, while she was on her way to her in-laws' home. The perpetrators allegedly threw the woman's body into a dry well, in an attempt to cover up the crime. So far, one arrest has been made by the police in this case.
According to reports, the woman had left her house on the morning of April 23 and had come to Bassi on a two-wheeler. She then took a private bus which dropped her at the stop nearest to her destination - that was six kilometres away from her in-laws' home. As she was walking on foot, the perpetrators allegedly approached her and offered her a lift. However, the men then took her to a forest where they allegedly sexually assaulted and then murdered her. The woman's family registered a missing complaint on Sunday, following which an investigation began.
While one person has been arrested in connection with the case, and further investigation is still on, the case proves why travelling, especially solo, remains a luxury for women. Taking a simple journey to our parents' house, or going on a weekend getaway may not seem like privileges to men, but they are for women. Ask a girl who has found herself stranded on an empty road, with her car punctured. When she has been approached by men, slowing down their vehicles and offering her a lift, you will know how travel too can make your stomach turn - seeming like a risky chore that we need to be done and dusted with. How putting your trust in people for a ride of mere six kilometres could lead to grievous consequences.
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Dausa gangrape and murder: Our streets remain unsafe for women
I remember when I used to live in a hostel as a student, we heard how a shady looking van had tried to abduct a girl who was walking back alone. The path to the hostel was well-lit but was secluded nonetheless. For months, I would practically run to cross any secluded area if I saw a shady looking car parked nearby and a couple of men loitering around it. That's how cases of sexual assaults and attempts to harass women on street affect our daily lives. We have to think twice before taking a cab at night. Our concern for our sexual safety calls all the shots in our travel plans.
Once, my sister and I booked a hotel near the airport in Goa because our flight landed there at midnight, and we felt travelling to our hotel in North Goa at that hour was foolish and risky. I do acknowledge that many women do not have the privilege that we had. We could afford to shell out extra cash for the sake of safety. Not many women can do that. But then again, no woman should have to pay extra, or plan her travel based on what would ensure her sexual safety. It is a tragedy that a woman, in the sweltering heat of Rajasthan, accepted the offer for a lift to escape the cruel weather and reach her destination faster, but instead, the men abused her trust.
Why do Indian streets remain unsafe for women, no matter what time of the day it is? When will men stop dehumanising us and see every woman walking unaccompanied on the street as an opportunity that they feel entitled to abuse? Why would you take a lift from a stranger? Why did you wear such a revealing dress? What were you expecting, wearing that shade of lipstick?
When will Indian society start blaming predatory behaviour among men, rather than blaming women and policing our bodies and lives? Let Dausa not become another reference like many other unfortunate incidents which have preceded it. It is about time we ask why must women be answerable when it is men who refuse to respect consent and feel entitled to getting away with the most heinous of crimes.
Views expressed are the author's own.