Girls, ladies, women. They are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, wives, daughters, friends, educators, colleagues, bosses, leaders and they play integral roles in our lives.
In Hinduism, Goddesses are worshiped. Shakthi is said to be complementing the male counterpart, Shiva.
Goddesses idols are revered and priests go through elaborate lengths in order to glorify the deities’ manifestation as an unbridled power without which the world will cease to exist.
Is that the case in real life? Are women respected? Are women protected? Are women empowered?
Ask any woman whether she has become a victim of unwanted attention and unwelcome touches from the opposite sex and see her hang her head down in confirmation.
That is the bitter truth, the grim reality. Women are seen as objects by some men, not as a human being made from skin, flesh and blood, what more as goddesses that are prayed to.
Yes, we suffer in silence. Heavens knows how many times I’ve been ‘pinched’, ‘elbowed’, ‘hit’ and ‘touched’ at my intimate parts in crowded public buses while travelling to school, library and home.
I always tried to avoid crowded buses but sometimes, I had no choice. I had to take crowded buses in order to be punctual to the places I went.
I would just close my eyes and will the disgust, anger and shame away as my modesty got outraged. At first, I felt my honor and chastity crumble away but later, I accepted it as one of the inconvenience of taking public transport.
This type of condoning only licence some men to do whatever they want to women. No More!! If you find a guy staring at you in a public place, glare at him back. If a guy whistles you openly, walk up to him and ask what’s his problem. If you feel a random dickhead caressing your behind, slipper him! If some guy rub himself on you, kick him in the groin! Sometimes, humiliation is the biggest and impacting punishment.
And, women are squarely blamed in our society saying that the way they dress turn men on and women actually ask for it.
If a girl wears a short skirt, she is a slut and it is an invitation for anyone to sexually harass her. Right? WRONG! Children and old women are raped too. To those who say that women get raped or teased because of the way they dress is provocative, (both men and women) I want to break your face because your stupidity provokes me. Girl babies as young as 3 months old have been raped. The babies’ pajamas and bibs were sexy??
What is worse, there seems to be tacit approval on the behalf of our society that this is a norm, an inescapable part of life women. If a girl goes up to her mom saying, “Amma, anthe kadai kitte lepak pandre pasangga enne kacau pandrangge ma..” Her mother would scold her daughter only, “Nee yean avanengge irukera pakkama poreh, vereh valileh povendi thane.” Bang on! The girl gets reprimanded, not the lechers who spoilt her peace. Mothers, aunties and grandmothers fret on their daughters, nieces and granddaughters, giving endless advice, “Velile pona jagarthai ah iru, yaaravuthu kacau pannangge na pesame iru, kandukathe. Vare late aghum na phone pannu. Katte katteya satte podathe. Night le rombe nerama veliye irukathe, mudinja night le veliye pogathe. Ponna, lakshanama, adakkam udakkama iru. Peche kore, rombe sirikathe, athu pombele pillei ku alagu ille..” But, when it comes to young Indian males, no such advice and restrictions. “Avan ambele singgam.” This reasoning must change. Nobody really talks about this. This subject evokes malaise and women who are sexually harassed suffer needless trauma.
Indian girls are always told to be meek and watch their backs all the time lest they become victim to sexual harassment. It is a necessitated insecurity fueled and encouraged by gross impunity and ignorance. Why do I bring up impunity? It is because no one ever tells Indian guys not to objectify women. No one ever tells a guy not to rape and outrage the modesty of women. I’d say some Indian women contribute to this scenario too. “Avaleh yaaru apdi sexy ah dress panna sonnethu? Venum ne vambeh vilaiku vaangguna ippo periya patthini maari vesham podra.” Doesn’t the dialogue sound all to familiar? It is inimical if you ask me.
It is only in recent history where women are slowly venturing out of the confines of incarcerating homes and patriarchy system with the desire to achieve something in their lives and give back to society. To stand shoulder to shoulder with men, work with them, provide support as colleagues and opposite numbers. These kind of people who always kuttham kandupidikran of women will send back them back into the kitchen and regress.
The drilling of giving women respect must begin at home. Teach boys that girls are their equal and that subjugating females is a sordid practice. If a father tells his daughter to get him a glass of water, he should also tell his son to do the same with equal ease. Let boys wash their own plates and teach them to hang the clothes to dry after washing machine washes; drill into them that household chores are not menial, inferior jobs that only should be done by females. And, make it known that men doing household chores is not something to be saluted and neither female astronauts should be exalted. IT IS CALLED GENDER EQUALITY WHICH BOILS DOWN TO CAPACITY AND CAPABILITY AS WELL AS USEFULNESS.
We, women are not asking for guys to worship us as goddesses. We merely want to be treated as a fellow human beings. We don’t want special treatment. We don’t need guys to open car doors for us. We don’t expect guys to pay for dinner everytime. We don’t want to hear the chivalrous phrase, “Ladies first.” or, “After you maam.” We can open car doors on our own – we can pay for date meals – we don’t need chivalry. All we need is liberation and some space to express ourselves and be useful units for the society. We want to be like Madam Ambiga. We want to be like Madam Irene Fernandez. We want to be like Nurul Izzah. So please guys, don’t be a stumble block for women who need to be out in order to be helpful individuals in our society. With such societal change, a woman doesn’t need to carry pepper spray and penknife to defend themselves in case of an untoward incident befalling her. I am waiting for that day.