It’s always the same. If the girl is a victim of a public humiliation comments always follow that the girl may have something to do with it. They say she may have dressed, talked or behaved provocatively to force the mob to misbehave with her.
Take the recent Guwahati incident for example. The girl was publicly humiliated by 11 men and the others just stood there and watched the drama. None of them did anything to stop the incident. She was being dragged by her hair, her clothes being pulled away in front of a big crowd. The media cameraman was recording the whole thing at one point even angling the camera according to the perpetrators’ directions. Although it’s also true that if not for that footage the men would not be recognized and put behind bars. But it is also a fact that the girl will have to be a victim every day from now on. Her life is forever tarnished by this incident. Imagine her family’s plight. They have to bear the repercussions. The whole nation watched in disgust. Who are these men who anointed themselves as the moral police? This was not a sole incident. Instances like these have been happening around the upbeat cities in India like Bangalore and Mumbai these past few years too. But Guwahati was hailed as a woman-friendly city.
Men on the streets are always looking for opportunities to eve-tease or grope women. They are either cat-calling or walking strategically close to a woman so as to brush against them. In buses they stand close to women with no space to move away and do unspeakable things. In spite of this most women keep mum and walk on without so much of a protest or retaliation.
The minor girl from the Guwahati incident was man-handled and groped in public for the sole reason that she had the guts to retort to a remark made by a passer-by. The MEN could not stand it so they start to pull at her hair and her clothes to “teach her a lesson” for dressing like she did. If she hadn’t replied back this incident would never have happened. Since she chose to do that the men couldn’t stand it. They had to show her the consequence of being a girl in a male chauvinistic country where Taliban-like rules are still being imposed on women to this day.
Who made these men moral police? Why did no one come forward to help the poor girl while she was unashamedly beaten, groped and humiliated in front of other men? Why didn’t they think for a moment if they would have half the mind to behave this way if it were a girl from their family? They say she dressed improperly that’s why she deserved to be treated that way? Why do we have to wait till the police get there to control the mob?
But I tell you even if the girl were dressed from head to toe the general public would still blame the girl. I can still remember that evening well. I was taking ICWA foundation coaching for a couple of months in Secunderabad. I had to walk through a bus complex and take a shortcut through the railway track to the bus stop where I would catch the bus to where I resided. I would usually see a gang of guys in the bus stop that would follow some girls to the bus stop and also wait to get into the same bus the girls did. Never in my mind would I have imagined them to target me as I always wore clothes from head to toe. I never acted promiscuous and never attracted attention to myself.
One evening I was walking to the bus stop and saw one of the guys following me and calling me from behind “Hey sushmita…wait up”. I increased my pace and tried my best not to show him I was scared to death. I was just looking for an opportunity to approach the bustling road and he would get off my back. But that wasn’t to happen. When I reached the road full of people I was a little relieved. But as I kept walking toward the area where my buses usually stop, out of the sea of people I saw the gang emerge one by one. This seemed too unreal. For a moment I felt like it was a bad dream which would end any moment now. I had a thought that if I stood by a woman they wouldn’t approach me. But there too they all stood closeby and started passing remarks about my dress, the way I looked and they also went to the length to call me arrogant cos I was not responding to them in anyway.
When it got too much, I thought I should not stay mum or they would do the same to another girl another day. So I went to the personnel there and told him what had gone on. The first question he asked me was “Did you say anything?” He then put me on a bus and asked the driver to drop me mid way as the bus would go another route from there. I got in and was thankful I was getting away from that gang. I finally took a bold step against eve-teasers.
What the driver and conductor of the bus were saying bring tears to my eyes to this day. Not out of sadness but out of frustration. Those words were so judgemental. They were saying the boys would never have bothered with me if I hadn’t provoked them in some way. What do they know? Why make such remarks? Why are women always blamed?
It is, and I think it always will be, advantage Men.