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Study life, study literature. Eat food. Lots of it.
Also, I use a lot of adjectives- working on that, so bear with me.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Ring the Bell, Start the Talk.

The last few months have seen a sudden onslaught in the media coverage of violence inflicted on women  in the country.  It took tragedies like Nirbhaya and the five year old girl in Delhi to get our attention, so what does that say about us?

In these very months, almost everyone I know had taken to some medium or the other to express their anger and fears, and initially I refused to add to the litany of posts that actually used a lot of words, but didn't say anything new. I've always tried my best to bring about small changes at  the grassroot level in stead of leading 'morchas' to change the world in a day. This, I realised, would need to happen in my own life first, not in anyone else's. I gave it a lot of thought and realised, that living where I do, and in the time that I do, fear is going to be a given. My neighbourhood is safe, my city is safer than most others and my college is safe- however, that does not mean that I am not going to be scared. That does not mean that if I'm in a lift alone with a unknown man, I will not be wary of him. That does not mean that I can stand in a government office line without worrying about the strange men who are leching at me. In all probability, they won't do anything to me. Yet, I worry.

When we curse our parents and overprotective brothers, friends and boyfriends about not letting us go out alone, we don't really think about it. Honestly, as paranoid as they seem, aren't they just a little justified in their fear of our safety? The fear of an attack on us (not just an actual physical assault) isn't just our fear. It is the fear of our companions as well. It is ingrained in us all, and at this point in time, it isn't going to be wiped out in a day or two. The fear of legal punishment isn't the solution either.

A couple of months ago, one of my closest male friends had a query- "As a male, what can I do to help my female friends and family members in a situation like this?" As much as I love the guy, it made me want to slap him. Because in my head, this question seemed to fuel the stereotype that us 'ablaa narees' need these men to protect us. Once I came down from my own ego trip though, I realised that that is not really how he intended it. He's just as worried about my safety as I am. Like I said, the fear is quite deeply seeded. I may not want a knight in shining armour to protect me, but drawing strength and  assistance from another person isn't a bad idea!

This, I believe, is where our answer lies. Not in demanding capital punishment or castration for rapists, not in candle light marches on roads, not in radical divides between the sexes. The answer lies in understanding the other genders. To Ring the Bell of change, we need to initiate and encourage honest conversation among families, friends, educational institutes and organisations. Gender sensitization, seeing the other genders as equal humans, individuals and not just by their reproductive organs is a fair start- this doesn't just mean that men have to change the way they look at women, but we need to change the way we look at men as well. Generalizations need to end. The process should begin at home and at school.

My contribution to this? I am beginning the conversation- in my living room, in my classroom. What will you do?

2 comments:

  1. Finally, a voice of reason amongst this hue and cry! The idea of ranting on social media or marching on the streets never appealed to me as because, as you rightly pointed out, the answer lies closer to home, to the way these social constructs are reinforced time and again. One step at a time - that's all we can hope for.

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    1. Thank you! This has been something that we've been discussing at work as well as in class- facebook and twitter rants are all well and good, but unless it leads to actual meaningful dialogue, its all just hot air.

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