Renu Bhatia, president of the Haryana Women’s Commission, who presided over a cybercrime awareness programme at RKSD College in Kaithal on Thursday, made a sexist comment while addressing the students. "Girls do not go to OYO rooms to perform aarti to Lord Hanuman," said Bhatia, which has put her under fire.
Bhatia went on to say that girls often complain of being sexually assaulted after they meet an online friend in an OYO room. She explained that girls would say that he made me drink something, assaulted me, and filmed the act. She claimed that girls should keep in mind that "bad things" could happen to them if they go to an OYO room to meet a friend.
Renu Bhatia OYO Comment
Her comment is not just regressive but extremely disturbing, especially because she's a woman. Patriarchy still stands strong in our society because it has pitted women against each other. The lack of sisterhood is one of the most important reasons that misogynistic men continue to have an upper hand in society. It’s disheartening and sickening to hear a woman hold survivors of sexual crimes responsible for the crime committed against them! Why can’t women stand up for their own tribe?
Society has this unsaid rule that if a woman meets with a man in a private place, she automatically gives consent to having sex. Her "no" will not be respected because she has lost the right to withdraw her consent. Girls who meet a male friend at an OYO room will definitely be characterless, because why else would she go there if not for an illicit relationship or pre-marital sex?
So, when a crime is committed against a woman, she is held accountable because she would have done something to instigate it. She might have worn a certain kind of dress, she might have gone out in the dark, she might have been too friendly, she might have been at a party, or she might have done something outside of societal standards, and that might have made her vulnerable to the crime. Can we please stop this absurdity once and for all?
No matter how many movies talk about consent, respect, and boundaries, our society just doesn’t seem to change! Thanks to some people in power, especially women, who make sexist remarks and normalise blaming women for the crimes that happen against them.
Will they have the same attitude when their family member or friend is attacked? Shouldn’t a person in power unbiasedly work towards the welfare and empowerment of women instead of pulling them down?
Some people in power seem to exhibit no empathy towards women or understanding of the crime. Instead of making this country a safe place for women, they choose to make insensitive comments that belittle the suffering of victims and survivors. Is this deliberate ignorance or the result of internalised patriarchy? If there is one thing worse than being raped itself, it is the victim or survivor being judged, shamed, blamed, and stigmatised for the crime. It's a million times worse when such women pull down other women.
When a person of power says something like this, it normalises men committing crimes against women and sends a misleading message to society. This is like saying, "Men will be men, so if you get assaulted, it’s your fault. Good girls don't do that, so if you did it, you have to face the consequences."
Why are men who commit these crimes not being questioned? Why is it so difficult for mighty organisations and people in power to hold the perpetrators accountable instead of blaming the woman? Is it too much to expect men to teach men to respect consent and boundaries?
Suggested Reading: 5 Outrageous Comments On Women Made By Men On Public Forums