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Has Living with #Fear Become Normal for #Women in #India?

February 3, 2014

A question our campaign frequently gets is: There is violence on women in all societies, so why should fingers be pointed only at India?

That is why we present to you below what women from the main metros of India say about the kind of fear they live with in their daily lives. Read and ask yourself: 

Is this normal? 

Is this how educated, professional women in London, New York, Singapore or even Beijing live? 

What does this say about the violence that women in India live with, tolerate and are often in denial of?

Sreemati Mukherjee (College Student):

From-Fear-to-Freedom-Crop-Pic-2Single women travelling after dusk should take more safety precautions.  With so many rape cases and incidents of molestations making headlines every other day, my parents get really worked up if I cross my deadline of 8 pm. They keep calling me up to find out if I am safe. To combat the given situation, my college has come up with an awareness programme for the safety of women and imposed dress codes for students. If we need to stay back late in college, our professors insist we go home in groups.

Tanya Choudhuri (Real Estate Agent):

Previously I used to come home by eight.  But now I have to come home early because my father…gets very worried if I am late.  The newspapers [are] full of news of women being harassed by biker gangs or raped by cab drivers.  He says it does not matter even if I am traveling with five women in our pool car, it does not matter as these gangs can easily overpower us and the police will look the other way. It does not matter if the Chief Minister is a woman. No politician has been sensitive to rape victims.

T.S. Ravikant (Executive at Multinational Company):

My daughter is five years old and I am desperately searching for a job abroad. India is no country for women.

Vidya (Engineering Student)

I avoided talking to him [the driver of the auto-rickshaw who was plying her with personal questions] and once we reached, I saw that he was opening his zipper!

Sromona Mukherjee (University Student):

enough is enoughIt’s like, the moment I step out of the house, I need to be cautious of my surroundings. Earlier, my curfew hours began from 9 pm, but now, my parents insist that I return home by 6 or 7 in the evening. It shows how worried they are at all times. Recently, a mobile app was launched that helps people reach out to close ones in times of emergency. I think it can prove to be very effective. Carrying a pepper spray might also help. Though my institution is yet to come up with any kind of safety measures to prevent eve-teasing [sexual harassment] on campus, I’m sure they will take some action now that violence is on the rise in the city.

Alkananda Somayajula, ( Mass Communication student):

Every other girl I know has gone through some horrific eve-teasing [sexual harassment] experience on the city streets. I have been teased myself, and it’s not just annoying but also very scary now. A woman has to think a 100 times even if she wants to step out after it is dark. I just wish the government does something to ensure safety of not just women, but all its citizens.

Paramita Bhattacharya, University Student:

The recent gang rape of a 21-year-old came as a real shock to all of us. Since I am a college student and I mostly travel alone, I avoid taking a cab. And in case I have no other option, I note down the registration number. Also, I avoid nightouts with friends and always keep an emergency helpline number saved on my phone.  Of late, my parents have started worrying more and more. They keep calling me up to know if I am safe. The numerous incidents of rapes have raised a new level of awareness at my institution. Guards have been posted at the gates. Our teachers always warn us about our safety.

Tanya Sen (BPO Employee)

A sense of helplessness grips me as I wait alone everyday for autorickshaws near metro stations and walk out alone. My educational qualifications, economic independence, self defence classes and the pepper spray can may not be helpful. I know I can be a victim too, anytime.

Sangita B. (Professional):

I got teased, lewd remarks were passed, once my hand was grabbed and I was even threatened. All this on the main roads on various spots across the city.

Nilesh P Kolapkar, (CEO of a Restuarant-Pub in Mumbai area):

Even in crowded city areas, women visit restaurants and clubs in the night accompanied by male friends or in big groups-consisting of five to six men-as against visiting in two’s and three’s, which happened in the past. I have also noticed that once such groups leave the restaurant, women are dropped off first. Women driving to restaurants on their own in the night has definitely lessened. Also, girls who do come in groups leave latest by 10 or 10:30 pm. Earlier, they would hangout even post-midnight.

Manali Basu, (College Student):

dont tell your daughter not to go outI don’t feel safe here anymore. Nothing has changed since December 16, 2012. Nothing has been done to help women in our country feel safer. Incidents of molestation, eve-teasing [sexual harassment] and rape are making it to the headlines every single day. My parents feel helpless when they read the newspapers. So, it makes sense that they want me back home by sunset. People take their protests to social networking sites, organize marches, use black dots… but does all these prevent crime? We can’t sit at home and blame men either! There’s no solution to it.  A friend of mine was molested once. Nobody came forward to help her. Girls should carry Swiss army knives and pepper sprays at all times. Unfortunately, my institution has not taken any precaution to ensure safety of students, but I hope they will.

[The above are excerpts from public viewpoints expressed in The Times of India (Kolkata), Business Economics, Indian Express (Bangalore), DNA, The Times of India (Hyderabad), Times of India (Mumbai)

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2014 12:28 pm

    Reblogged this on iheariseeilearn.

  2. February 3, 2014 1:18 pm

    Has the previous generations and also the current one, not been instilling proper values to the sons in their family? Are these sons just let off even when they did mistakes, because they were expected to take care of the parents later? Is family honour only for the daughters? When the sons smoked, drank and abused others, the parents turned a blind eye to these and were policing the daughters is it? So at such times, the family honour was not at stake?
    We all have heard many elders in our families complain that this generation is bad. But I differ, by saying that, what they have sowed in their generations, it is that we are reaping now. With due respects to all the merits they have given us, they have also failed to nip certain problems right in the bud. For example, the huge population we see now, cannot be due to one or 2 generations. Actually, we hardly see any parent having more than 2 kids, on an average, in the current generation. But in our great great grand parents’ time, they used to have 12-16 kids. The subsequent generation might have given atleast 4-5 kids each. Hence calculating this, we can roughly assume that from every family, within 2 generations, there were at least 60 persons from a single household. Now, how is this generation responsible for this increase?
    We have seen scenes even in the black and white movies, where the hero teases the heroine, stalks her and ‘gives’ his love, which she ‘should’ accept. When this idea has been reinforced many times, people tend to get conditioned by it. They failed to correct the men during that time. What we see now is just the tree branches, but the seeds were sown long time back. Due to the technological development and more awareness, the problems are getting reported more. This is a good sign. But getting reported is just a part of the problem solved. How it is going to be curbed is not yet realised.
    I wish every parent in India take responsibility for each and every child they bring into this world. They cannot be selfish in thinking how their sons will take care of them in the future, they also have a huge responsibility in telling them not to disturb any other human or other living thing.
    Also the movie makers should stop showing girls teased by the boys in movies. Worse is the case, when they show the girls or women enjoying it. If we see in real life, many women do not enjoy it, and are actually annoyed at this. This change in the attitude should be brought in the family, when the family members sit to watch such scenes. The women members in the family should let the male members understand that what they show in movies are not real. The change has to begun both from home and by having stricter laws outside.

  3. asha kachru permalink
    February 3, 2014 1:51 pm

    put it up on my facebook group as well as on homepage.

    we will never give up our right to free movement!

  4. February 4, 2014 2:17 am

    I’m so sorry if this comment is obvious, too simple or doesn’t make sense. But it seems to me that the reason for all of these rapes is because of the current genocide of women, which has lead to less women than men and of course men who have no sexually available women for consensual sex. It seems that the hate of women always negatively affects women no matter what. I’m not sure how else to solve this problem than to keep signing petitions and sending messages to the prime minister of India and sharing this story. It seems that there needs to be a movement of camaraderie between women and some men which will make it so that when women are in positions of power they can actually feel comfortable and a need to hep women instead of the current state where women sit back and do nothing when women are victimized in such high numbers.
    Also yes this does sound alot worse than the situation in other cities. I experience fear but not so much that I will not be out after dark alone or with other women. This sounds terrible.

  5. nithiyasree permalink
    February 4, 2014 9:28 pm

    it is not safe for women to hang around alone anywhere in india alone is what i know and once i’ve started following this blog am really horrified by. i’m practically a child now but as young aspiring person dreaming of achieving in life i don’t find any one reason that overpowers this problem for me to serve or contribute to india…………

  6. February 5, 2014 11:26 am

    Reblogged this on REVOLUTIONS IN MY SPACE: A BLOG BY RITA BANERJI and commented:

    I was on an NDTV discussion panel last year, where another Indian feminist insisted that this kind of danger and fear of violence that women in India live with, as exemplified in this post, is normal to women every where, even in the west. I know this woman has not lived in the west, like I have. So is this plain defensiveness, or is it denial? And why would Indian women be defend the social system that forces them to live like this?

  7. asha kachru permalink
    February 5, 2014 2:06 pm

    yes dear Rita, it is an unusual but important reminder that you are giving us here. the Indian women all to often defend the social system and make women like you and me look like devils. as if we are negativists and all that. why should we accept anything less than humanly dignified lives?

    • February 6, 2014 3:18 pm

      Isn’t it absurd Asha? If we were discussing racism and apartheid say in the US or South Africa, it would be strange if black people living in these countries began to defend the system and made arguments like, but there is racism elsewhere too! This is why systemic violence on women in India is so difficult to deal with. It is deeply internalized even in the feminist movement. But I’m glad there are sister feminists like you out there still fighting and calling a spade a spade :)

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