After years of trying to be a good 'India's daughter, I am angry. And as incessant Woman's Day messages centred on the liberty and pride of our gender fly back and forth, I refuse to be silent any longer.
I want to tell my story to all the 'bad' women (a full 80% of the female population, after all)--those who are prone to 'western culture', 'wear jeans' or use 'mobile phones'. I want to tell them how I was successful in saving myself from getting raped in a country where every 20 minutes a woman suffers a sexual assault.
I have got more than what most Indian women desire, but still less than what all of them deserve. I am independent but not liberated, I am opinionated yet ignored. But of course, it's good to be ignored and unnoticed. If an India's daughter is too friendly, her 'body language might invite the attention of potential rapists' lurking on the streets.
More than India's daughters, the BBC documentary sheds light on 'India's families' and their deep-rooted mindset that teaches women to be submissive and considers fighting back a misconduct. I am ashamed to live in a society where a rapist has the audacity to set the standards of decency for a woman, and the people in power remain entangled in thoughts on whether to ban such a documentary or not. I only wish the debates were centered on the lawyers who very conveniently got away after making remarks that were violently chauvinistic. But no, we like to be more concerned about the publicity that the rapist has got! To the respected people of this country, please stop burying your head in the sand.
" I am ashamed to live in a society where a rapist has the audacity to set the standards of decency for a woman"
Oh! My emotions let me digress from the topic a bit too much. We were discussing why 20% of girls who are 'good' never get raped. I would like to narrate anecdotes from the life of a fictional character, let's call her 'Nirbhaya', a good girl who never got raped. You must be wondering why I chose not to tell my story instead. That's because my family's 'honour' lies in my hands and I have to guard it at all times. So, we were talking about the 22-year-old Nirbhaya, who didn't realise when being 'safe' started to mean living in fear. She confined herself in the garb of respect every day. Two days back, when she was driving back home, it started raining. She always felt that rain liberated her, each droplet withering the walls that trapped her. She pulled over her car to collect a breath of fresh air for her soul, but thinking about the 'appropriateness' of her actions, she quickly got back into it. She might have remembered the words of a Haryana Chief Minister, who said that if a woman wanted freedom, why didn't they roam around naked. Thanks to him, she did not cross that 'limit of morality' and managed to prevent being raped.
"I have got more than what most Indian women desire, but still less than what all of them deserve."
For everybody else in the world, the weather dictates the kind of clothes they wear, but for good India's daughters, the mode of transport, time of day and intentions of the other sex does. Nirbhaya is fond of buying a lot of 'wrong clothes' but could never gather the courage to wear them and 'roam in discos and bars at night doing wrong things'. Maybe that's why, she is still safe!
She agrees with many self-proclaimed godmen and infamous rapists who say that even in a sexual crime, it takes two hands to clap and the victim must share the blame. That's the reason why Nirbhaya never looked at men 'suggestively'. Not even when she was an 8-year-old and a rikshawala molested her.
PS: While India is proud of producing Nirbhayas year after year, there is a desperate need to ban sexist people and not the documentaries that showcase their misogynistic attitudes. Maybe men should be banned from wandering about late at night instead of women having their freedom curbed. If you really want your women to be safe then get her rid of the perpetrator.