Has Living with #Fear Become Normal for #Women in #India?
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):
Single 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):
It’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):
I 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.