I am a woman in India. My life is not mine. The course it should take is not judged by me. My life, how I should live it, what is proper, what is not, is judged by the society. I am expected to take it, no questions asked.
When my parents got to know about the Delhi rape incident, a couple of days ago, I was in Bangalore. They called me up and asked me, if I was safe, if the security in my hostel was ok. They also asked me not to venture out after dark, cover myself up with a dupatta or a scarf at all times and NOT to go out with a male friend, lest I should attract unnecessary attention.
My parents are doctors. They are not uneducated, they are not from rural India and they most certainly know that rape is a sensitive issue. But, their first reaction was for me to take precautions. That is funny, because, it wasn’t use pepper spray, walk with a crowd, yell if something is wrong, but dress appropriately.
For the lack of a better word, I’m stumped. Why is it my problem, to not bring upon rape on myself? Isn’t it disgusting that sexual assault is seen as the woman’s fault? But it seems that there is much lost in translation.
Indian women are subject to tremendous violence. Take the case of Delhi rape victim, she was raped, beaten up and left to die. Why did they have to beat her up? They had already traumatized the woman enough; did they have to kill her? They had their way with her, was it necessary to kill her? Who are they to decide what should happen to her life?
Most Indian women do not even realize what sexual harassment is. Sexual assault in India is masqueraded as “eve-teasing”. The fact that, if you raise your voice against assault, you not your offender will be objectified, out to trial and hung out to dry in the society, is well why most women even refuse to speak up and bear it in silence.
The public outrage over the rape victim’s death is welcome, it symbolizes that Indian public is not impervious to the extremely disinterested attitude of its lawmakers. It marks that dissent will be voiced out however strongly the government tries to crush it.
It also shows that an innocent 23 year old normal girl, leading a fairly inconspicuous life, had to die before the nation could examine the safety of women throughout.
One question does remain unanswered, if she wouldn’t have died, or if the media did not give it such all-encompassing coverage, would she have been ignored like the thousands of the women in India, who face assault every single day?
She is a martyr, but I still think that unless women of this country, come out of their prejudices, hypocrisies and false notions, that men are supreme and their acts cannot be condemned, we will have a lot of martyrs.