Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's the girls fault!

               "Women are like precious gold. If you expose them, they will be looted" 

Like many women who read this line from a politician in the morning newspaper, I was bewildered. How dare they blame the woman for the unmanly, savage gang rape? Further they say that woman should be accompanied by a male while travelling at night. Right! That's exactly what Nirbhaya was doing. But that was her "friend" who was with her and that automatically raised further questions as to what "she was doing" with a man rather than what those barbarians did to her. That was Delhi and Delhi is not safe for girls. Girls should shut themselves up in their homes after 5 pm when in Delhi. When a photo-journalist accompanied by her colleague was gang raped in the "safe" city of Mumbai in early evening hour, they still blame the woman!


More than the insensitive people issuing such statements, I was furious at the newspapers which print it on the first page.
                I discussed this later with my father and I was taken aback when he supported the statement. The next thing I heard was Mom backing it up. How could they, the educated and free minded parents, think like that? IT.ISNT.THE.GIRL'S FAULT. Rape is completely the fault of the man. I argued that no one has the right to rape a girl no matter what hour she is out, no matter with whom she is, no matter what she is wearing.                 It was when they said," It is not the girl's fault that she got raped, it is the girl's fault that she knows she lives in such times and behaves recklessly". I sat back to think on it.

              Lets just forget rape for a moment. Take up theft for that matter. Let's say you have gold. Glittery and very expensive gold jewels which you love to wear. It is your right to wear what you want to wear and so you wear it. You go to high end hotels and parties and wedding. You walk back home all alone, do you feel safe? Do you go flaunting that gold as freely as you would in a protected environment? No, right? Why may I ask? The reason is simple. You know that you would be a soft target for thieves. There in you use your common sense and act cautious.
             Let's not compare theft and rape. Just look at the fundamental act. Act of crime. Rape is much grave and cruel I agree. Is our caution the same? Do we take adequate care to keep ourselves safe? The answer sadly and shockingly, is NO. 

            While it is a very valid fight that we are fighting against gender discrimination and freedom for women, can anyone of those crusaders stand up and assure that holding banners that say "Do not tell your daughter how to dress, teach your son not to rape" will help the case? Will it avert the lecherous eyes or be a downer for those devils? There is a thin line between boldness and foolishness. Teach your daughters to be cautious while the sons are being taught "not to rape". Overnight no amount of movements will make it safe for girls to grow up unmolested forget about wearing  hotpants and travel. It is a gradual process if it has to happen!
          I remember a recent wedding I attended. There was a young girl clad in a saree that was draped in a way that it went across only half her chest. She wore a low cut blouse that exposed all of her back and a good part of one breast. She must be younger than 20. She stood right in front of the stage facing the people sitting in the hall and enjoyed the attention that she was getting. She was talking to her relatives, many of whom were staring at her bosom. Men as old as 60s were all about her, talking to her and yet not taking their eyes off her chest. She behaved unaware of it all!
        On railway platforms, college girls wearing hot pants and racer backs face the same situation and are delusional about the wicked intentions of the men!
        Do not tempt them ladies. A decent man wouldn't rape even if you went naked. A rapist will rape you even if you are veiled. It is the intermediates that you must not provoke!


        After all there is some truth in the wisdom of the elders. Women are precious gold. We must protect ourselves because unlike thieves, rapists don't necessarily need to see the glitter.
        Accept it or not. It is lurking very close. You can escape it though!
       Dress appropriately. It is being hammered time and again and not without merit. Keep those shorts and sexy tops for the beaches and other occasions and not for the train to catch !
      Never let your kid out of sight. Gone are the days when you could keep your toddler  with relatives and take a shopping break. Never entrust a male member, no matter how close, to look after the kid in your absence. Leave them with your parents or carry them along.

      Tell them what is a bad touch and encourage them to talk about it. Yes, you have to tell them even if they are just 2 year old. No one touches your baby and gets away with it!

      Do not open the door to a stranger. When you are alone do not let anyone in. Talk to them at the door through the safety door (ensure you have one) and politely tell them to come later. If you must let them in then stand right at the entrance with the door wide open. It would be easier to run :P
     Sometimes it is unavoidable to let them in and not  accompany them ( for eg the man from gas company). Call out to your neighbor (always be on friendly terms!! ) or act as if on phone call and shout out the details of the person with you. "Arre wo gas wala aya hai ghar pe.." kind of conversation.

      Travelling I guess you all know this one by now. When taking an auto or cab, always sit right behind the driver. It is difficult for them to grab you. Make sure someone knows which cab or auto you are in. Say it loud so that even the driver knows!

      Avoid secluded spots Privacy be damned! You have all the time in this world for that but do not enter secluded areas as they are prime spots for rapists to lurk around. Even the guards at such places sometimes blackmail and rape the girl. Obviously it never gets reported most of the times!

     Trust your guts Believe me, a girl always has a weird feeling about certain places or people. Avoid them. Once you go somewhere and alarm bells start ringing then no matter what others say, do no return to that place.
    If you are attacked put your hands together with all your force (as if a loud clap) on his ears. It will set him off balance and give you time to run!
              I think we have reached a point where we are past talking about rapes. IT is always the same. A gang rape happens and  newspapers report it day in and out. New channels flash it as breaking news. A few politicians issue statements. Social media puts up posts and tweets. We sign online petitions. Rarest of the rare case sometimes gets punishment and then goes up the higher courts. We are all back to our lives. With careless abandon.

Friday, September 13, 2013


           I kept clicking on link after link which yielded the same result. I dug deeper into the subject, subconciously drawing parallels. It was complex. Much more than I thought. When I found what I was looking for, I wasn't so sure if the hunt was better left at it. It did not matter that I had been right in raising doubts and turning to the internet for my answers. Did I feel guilty? No. It was more than that. I felt a loss. 
           We were awed by her right away just like anyone who hasn't known her up close. The shuffling of divisions had put us all at an awkward state. It was a heavy decision to take. To choose from Sanskrit entire and Sanskrit composite. Only a handful of students had volunteered to take up the entire course. The rest of the class was coerced by teachers with the promise that it was a "scoring" subject. No one bothered to underline "if you study from day one". It was a huge change to see our friends flung across the divisions and although we all promised to meet up during the break, we all knew that it was going to be rarer and rarer as we moved through the year.

           We entered the class on the first day in the new section, unsure of what to expect. Each one sat beside the person they knew from the previous class. It was by chance that we all sat together. It remained that way for the rest of the school. The numerous proxy classes gave us ample time to play truth or dare and it was this game that drew us close in the beginning.

           She was a people's person. There was no one in the class with whom she could not strike a conversation. She managed to get acquainted with even the lady who sat next to her in bus for the first time. People warmed up to her instantly. It was the way she seemed genuinely interested and honestly naive that made people feel protective towards her. When she was done with all her blabbering after coming to class and finally settled down with us, she would be full of stories.

          Her stories fascinated us. It was picture perfect. It amused me how her family always went out on weekends. She lived in a joint family and her father was a businessman. The conversations, the laughter, the togetherness was something we all envied being from nuclear families. On some days she went on and on about how they had been somewhere and she was gifted something or walked into someone famous.
         Her tiffin used to be dropped to school during lunch time and always had some or the other delicacies while we all frowned over our "nutritious" lunch pack.

        One day she came all disturbed to the class. We asked her what the matter was. She said she had lost her gold finger ring. We did not remember her wearing it to school. She said it was some ring having a particular gem stone which she had. After talking at length and trying to revive her memory as to where she last kept it, we gave up. The next day she told us she had found it. It had been in her rubber gloves. She described how she tended to the plants in her house and had used gloves and the ring probably came out while removing the gloves.
        Some other day it was the pencil box that she had forgotten in the classroom and searched the entire school the next day. We told her to let it go and there was hardly any chance of finding it. She told us it was important to search because it had the pen her deceased grandfather had given her as a last gift. It had sentimental values attached.

       Slowly it had started. It took us time to notice but notice we did.There was no ring and no sentimental pen. She went back on her words, sometimes drastically changing her statements. Altering, modifying statements until no more than a ghost of the previous one remained. We grew exasperated of challenging her. She was always ready with a defensive.
      "I will keep the phone. Reliance charges 4 rs" she said once.
      "It charges only 2." I argued
      "But if it goes to 2 mins then 4 rs na" she said bluntly.

       Still we stuck with her. Ignoring the faults and over looking the lies. She had started changing then. She started getting lost in the conversations. She slipped through gossips and suddenly realised she had missed it and asked us again. She kept quiet and became moody. Some days we saw her at the bus stop and waved but she kept staring at a distance, occupied in her thoughts.

       It took time. Time for her to begin to stop lying. Little by little I explored her world. Of the darkness that lay in it. She trusted me with the facts. It was nothing like what she talked of.
       Broken family, financial crisis, bickering relatives and one problem that lead into another. It was a cascade. I saw no hope but encouraged her to look at it. If it had been me, I would have drowned. She kept afloat, even swimming against the current. We had become close. With time things began to look up for her. Well deserved, I thought.

       Years later when I was staring in face of the new situation, I had no idea what I would find. 

      "This is the watch he gifted me last year" she announced excitedly to us as we started with our food. We were dining and she had bored us to death with every minute description of her date. She found it of immense importance to go over the most excruciatingly mundane details.
      "Isn't this the watch your friend gifted you?" I asked out of surprise.
      "That is what I told at home last year. I had told you that time also !"
      I stared disbelievingly. I.never.mess.up.such.details. NEVER.
       Why would she lie to me? What did she have to cover up? 
       Was my mind playing tricks? 

      I went over the the recent conversations in past when she had done something that confused me.

      She had blushed so much to show the dress that her guy had gifted and I had frankly felt a little envious of the same.
      A few days later she had told me of her shopping spree and described a dress that was exactly fitting that of her gift! I had brought out the fact and she had retracted on the design and color. I was perplexed but had let it pass.. This was a few months back.. How long had she been playing with me?

       My search on the internet had explained all the symptoms..
    -   Lying for no apparent reasons or to show a false image
    -  Retracting statements
    -   Marked change in stand
    -   Defensive
      and the list went on and on.. 

      I did not know how to deal with the situation. I decided to take a break from all thoughts. Confrontations bear  no fruit in some cases and silence is the best resort. 

     A couple of months later she came over to meet me. I was a little busy. She talked  about some problems. It was rather late in the night and I was worn out to think clearly. I knew she wanted no suggestions. Just someone to listen to.
     "Why does this happen to me? It is not that everything is perfect, then why?"
     It was then that I realised. She was trapped. She was trapped by her compulsive lying. She was a good person at heart but lying was something she cannot control. All I had to do was to give her the support to keep floating..