How Many More Times Must Women Fight Men For Their Safety?

A girl among you A girl among you in Culture Shock on 26 December, 2017

Navratri is a wonderful time. After attending several poojas at temples nearby, and witnessing little girls being worshipped as the Goddess herself, she found herself wondering about the vast cultures and practices in this state where she is studying. Far away from her own home, from her family. But yet, she was glad that she was celebrating something new these days, with strangers who were now becoming friends and a language that she was slowly getting used to.

It was a beautiful, rainy evening and she was walking back, a smile etched on her face. She had given the little girls she knew some gifts, as was the tradition here. Just thinking about it made her smile some more. Little did she know, that sometimes, the look of a familiar street, one that always gave her a feeling of security, would turn into one where she would be using her mental and physical strength to her advantage.

Her usual noisy street, with kids running around, and parents watching over them was deserted, at 7.30pm; all credit to the rain that she was enjoying.

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A single bike rounding her street didn’t strike her odd, at the time, or even put her into a high alert mode. Her spirits were high today.

The bike stopped in front of her. She was in a not-so-well-lit area. He had a helmet on and was asking for directions to a clinic. Not knowing the place well, but also wanting to help out she told him that he should probably go to another street, possibly a crowded one and ask around for help.

Moments later, just as she began walking away, he felt a hard slap on her butt and to her horror, the biker and his hand extended and was reaching for her chest!

She’s always been a girl who has been taught to fight back: whether it was those disgusting men on the bus who would try to push themselves closer to her or those drunken idiots who tried to kiss her when she was on the metro. All this time, she’s had to curse and scream at them, twist their hands or sometimes even resort to public humiliation. But that’s the thing, all of this was always done in public.

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This night, it was just her, her with this molester on the bike who was hoping for a second round; her, and her umbrella.

She screamed and poked the b****** twice in the eyes, a stream of curses flew out of both of them. He sped away, as she stood there frozen.
The streets no longer felt safe, as they always did.

Should she call her parents? No. It would scare them. They were far away and this wasn’t something that she didn’t handle. She was an independent and fearless girl who had always learned how to tackle these hardships on her own. But in that split-second, she felt like a little girl and she missed home.

She missed being shielded by her parents, by her sister every time she went out.

Her father would walk on one side, her mother, her sister and her in the middle, and her brother would be at the end. Now, for the third time in her life, she realized that what she had thought to be a cage created by the men in her family, was actually a nest. A safety nest that protected them from the outside, wayward world.
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But she didn’t cry. She isn’t weak and she was able to defend herself. Now, she was angry. She was fuming as she walked back. How could people, the same ones that pray to girls inside temples, treat them like pieces of meat outside it?!

Where were things going wrong?

Before you start pointing fingers at her, NO! She wasn’t dressed provocatively that could stir any kind of desire in the minds or loins of men. She was wearing a long salwar, brought up in a conservative family, where she was taught to wear fully covered clothes, at all times.

In a country, where an actress can make bold statements, a girl should be able to walk out of her house naked and know that no one will touch her. What’s the point of these poojas and prayers, when women outside these very temples are treated in such an inhumane way?

She was taught not to curse God. She was taught to always dress conservatively and not walk out alone at night, what good did this do to her? When will someone teach those vile humans, who exist on the taste and touch of innocent girls?

I am not asking all men to go out and protect every single woman who walks alone in the streets, at night. I’m only asking them not to be the reason a girl runs home, in anger, to pour out her frustrations through her words…

Editor's Note:

Share this story, because it's ridiculous that women in India still have to ask, beg and dream of their safety.