Today I read a thought povoking post by Quills at Save Kerala and the subject is related to something I was planning to write for a long time. Then I decided against it because I thought it was futile to write more about something that all of us read about regularly and have even begun to ignore as it one of those subjects like, outdated laws that does not have an immediate remedy.
But after reading Quills article I thought I will write about an ordinary day in the life of an Indian girl…something that most guys in this country don’t know about.
From the time we girls grow up and start looking like women, life becomes hell. Till then life is carefree, at least for most of us. We learn very early in life that ‘Men” are bad. We are warned about ‘Men” and we learn by experience that these warnings had better be taken very seriously. From walking on the road to shopping, is not a routine activity for us as it is for guys. From the time we step out of the house, our life is fraught with danger. We have to bear with men trying to brush against us, or touch us or follow us, making lewd suggestions, cars slowing and keeping pace with us to have a good look etc. We learn to IGNORE these with practiced efficiency from a young age. We learn to steel ourselves and walk by with our eyes away whenever we pass a group of guys. We learn never to walk alone. Which is why you see girls walking in pairs or in groups. The conditioning begins very early.
Our mothers are on tenterhook from the time we are born to the day we get married. They cannot leave us in the house alone and we rarely move around after dark alone. From birth to grey hair we live on high alert. There are so many unwritten rules and regulations that we have to follow to see that we do not become yet another statistic.
One of my memories from college, is keeping books and files or bags in front of us as a shield and walking, to avoid the painful hits on the chest by men coming from the opposite direction. And this happens daily if you are not alert and it is a painful and humiliating experience. And these are decent looking guys, not the illiterates who are better behaved than their ‘educated’ brethren.
I nearly get run over when I walk on the road by Auto fellows, bikers and car ridden men trying to get their thrill by driving as close as possible to me. And this happens “daily”. And this is not because I am a Miss India look-alike, but because I am a girl. We learn to walk on the footpath because on the road we are open game for bikers to brush past. Our reflexes are razor sharp while driving because of bikers who try to scare us by suddenly coming in front of us making us to brake hard or swerve wildly. And this too happens daily.
When I look at the elderly ladies walking on the road I feel so much envy and I long for that day when I too will walk like them without being brushed against, stared and whistled at. And that is not happening for a long time I know.
For the girls working in IT companies, strict laws against sexual harassment keep us safe. For the girls working in other places, life and career progression is very difficult unless they have the dexterity of a Matador to avoid male colleague’s predatorial designs.
And all this happens in a free, democratic country famed for its family values. This happens in a country where a woman is the honor of the family.
And this my dear gentlemen of this country, is just another ordinary day in us girls lives.
For the women of India who make up 50% of the population, democracy does not exist.