Thursday, March 08, 2007

Woe'men's Day!

Happy Women’s Day to all of you gals out there. Today was a day of fun and excitement at the office with flowers for the ladies and a special lunch too. Besides, today was a significant day as most of us remembered to wish each other and sent out mushy ppt's and html mails with roses and pictures of women in various avataars.

After lunch we were as usual on a stroll around the campus when a senior colleague narrated an incident that happened some years ago when she was in college. Her Dad had just retired from a public sector company and the family decided to go back and settle down in their home town, Trivandrum. My colleague enrolled in a college in Trivandrum. One day on the way to college, at a road junction, some guys mouthed some obscenities at her. Enraged, as she had never heard such filth before in Mumbai where she had studied earlier, she confronted the guys and proceeded to give them a ticking off. She was polite in her language. The guys got aggressive when they heard her and demanded and apology for "thinking too much of herself." In their own words, when a girl walks on the road she invites such attention. If she was too particular then she could come to college in a car or sit at home, they said.

Soon the boys gathered a crowd and began heckling her. Someone called the police who came and took and girl and the boys concerned to the station. Soon a whole group of college students from the boy’s college landed up at the station, shouting slogans and asking her to apologize. The Inspector, sensing the situation asked to apologize. He told her that he understood her predicament but this was Kerala and the only way out for her was to apologize. The girl held her ground. Soon her father was called for. The Inspector again pleaded with him to ask his daughter to apologize. Instead of asking his daughter to apologize, the old man walked out of the station and amidst heckling and booing held his hand up in bought them together and apologized for his daughter’s behavior. Emboldened by this move the cops managed to tell the boys to disperse.

A few weeks later the girl and her family moved to Chennai. The public humiliation and the derisive laughter of neighbors was too much. There was much rejoicing in the community for teaching “the mumbai” girl a lesson. Satisfaction all around. They had taught another “westernized girl” to toe the line.

Ironically this happened the day after International Women’s Day. And more ironically this happened in the most literate State in India.

Happy Women's Day to all of you lovely ladies,young and old and not so old. You gals rock!!! :)


Anonymous said...

New thought on women's day:

Is it the fault of a dominant male society, or the fault of educated women who raise such filth in the name of sons? Or is it just bad blood? How do educated young women in Kerala live among such filth?


alex said...

Education should bring about humility and mutual respect. Otherwise the purpose is not served.

Moreover, people need to let go their ego boundaries and see other people as another human being.

Jeseem said...

a happy women's day to silverline and to her bold friend. we need bold people like her

Jithesh said...

Oh! That’s quite an unfortunate incident. That too from a state which considered to be the frontrunner in women’s empowerment. However, compared to other states, I feel that kerala is a society that treats women with due respect. During the last five years, I have traveled almost all over India in the course of my work. Apart from the north-eastern states, I haven’t come across a state which can stand close to kerala in this aspect. The fact that Kerala ranks first among the Indian states in terms of performance on Gender Equality Index (GEI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) as brought out by UNDP provides ample evidence
However cases like the one you mentioned bring serious disrepute to our image as a women-friendly society. And these are not one-off cases. The best way to prevent such occurrences would be to bring such cases into the limelight and to collectively see to it that the offenders don’t get away that lightly.

Jiby said...

i feel ashamed, but i know this will happen and keep happening in tvm. compared to my mother's generation in tvm where they actively participated in politics and other social causes, that too coming from small towns and villages today u find only a handful of gals in every college who dare to shed the docile tag.

despite being a male i have felt a surge of fear rising when i walk alone, beside a gang of guys huddled by a i can imagine the feeling they evoke in the opposite sex. atleast ur friend tried.

mathew said...

You have given the wrong is Woo'mens Day!! ;-P

Anoop G said...

in kerala, because of our culture.., we may stare at women or behave as if we have not seen a species like that..

But atrocities against women are higher in other states i believe.. In kerala a woman has more control and power in a family..

mathew said...

Incidents like you have mentioned are still common practice even now..hope things will change for the better with the next generation..The definition of literacy has to be redefined..few people are literate in the real sense!!

Di said...

Really thats one thing that completely irks me about my otherwise lovely native village.It is so obvious right at the home-level!! :-\

Happy Womens day to u too dear!!..We do rock,dont we.. ;)

MC said...

its sickening..i have seen similar shameless comments against women everywhere..even in movies and serials you see mothers absolving sons from absuing women by saying "avan oru aanu alle" (he is a male - and so women have to take care).

i have seen uncles at clubs in Kerala commenting on women who go to the healthclub "shes a gone case"

i have seen guys just ogling and staring at women so badly in shops and on the road, so horrible that you feel like beating them up.

but ofcourse, a lot of men and women in kerala will continue to justify all this, and say we are mad to write on such topics as its just a rarity. i know its not! its just so shameful.

anyway..happy women's day! hugs! and more power to all the women of the world!

G said...

More power to your friend.

Fleiger said...

when a girl walks on the road she invites such attention. If she was too particular then she could come to college in a car or sit at home, they said.

Can the girls use two-wheelers? Otherwise, essentially only girls from higher-middle class upwards are going to college from now on. I think this is a new version of the "modern girls wearing westernized clothes invite sexual comments and rapes" theory.

Anonymous said...

Sad state of affairs (pun intended).
However, here is something far more pleasant:
"It is said that beauty and music remains on earth because of women...
Happy Women's Day"


Neihal said...

Shocking....incidents like these shake my confidence for a while...are we really moving ahead in time or back....but I know we are moving ahead....a lil slow though :(

silverine said...

Kajan: What is ironic is that this happens only in Kerala and still happens.

Alex: Education is nothing but a piece of paper for these guys.

jeseem: Thank you, but if her Dad had not apologised things could have got ugly.

jithesh: I guess you are not a mallu :) Kerala is one of the most repressive state in the country when it comes to women. No other state comes close. And unlike other parts of India this happens across every strata of the society and not just the poorer classes.

jiby: I know what you are talking about. Guys have absolute power and the society recognises it and if you mess with them and get hurt then it is your fault since you knew very well not to mess with them.

Mathew: Licensed to woo yeah? ;)

anoop: I dont agree with you.

mathew: I have so many college and school going cousins in Kerala. And from their talk mixed school and college stretche your nerves to the maximum and most of them finish education with a sigh of relief.

Di: Very true and I wish people would acknowledge it! And thank you, we do rock!! :)

mc: Most guys ogle, but the mallus are the worst because the filth they talk is unbelievable. Sometimes I wish I didn't know Malayalam :(

flieger: That was a sarcastic way of saying that either you sit at home or endure such atrocities. It is just the male asserting himself. Perfectly natural in Keral.

G: May her tribe increase!

Anon: Thank you :)

neihal: This was just a sneak preview of Gods Own Country :)

flaashgordon said...

There's the mob psychology playin too- wotever crime u do , there'll be some union to support u and even have a hartal to prevent action taken against u. Esp college students. if they have some party support will get away with just anythin

Fleiger said...

Sheer madness... literacy does not always mean education.

Well, I wouldn't be too surprised to have such kind of treatment given to "westernized" women in towns in other parts of India too. Need not be Kerala special you know...

Sachin R K said...

Sadly, such incidents are a fact of life for women even is our so called socially empowered cities. Even though the majority would feel outraged, we prefer to keep silent and look the other way, preferring to let 'them' ( govt, police, politicians , in short anyone-as-long-as-it-is-not-me ) do the job.

Pradeep said...

A good thought and a refreshing one...

Sometimes I wonder whether shouldn't we think over and above gender issues since it's values and approaches to issues that matter rather than than whether one primarily a man or woman.

Here too the attitude towards a woman, man, child, animal -- rather than the gender or species per se.

I find that perceptions often tend to get shackled in typecasts and labels; while what is needed a larger outlook.

Anonymous said...

My take->
IN big cosmo cities..women are generally safe(Mumbai,NY,London) city is Kerala is of that size or composed of outsiders(cosmo=diverse cultures congregating).
Anything can happen anywhere->
famous case of girl groped in 2007 New Year in Gateway of India.
How do you answer that.?
In NY in some parks men can get mugged and women joggers raped.

Also..its better to adapt to the culture of that place..she might have worn clothes or sported a air which might have irked the boys.
I am quite sure if you went to a college in Mumbai with a half pavada and top(the vesham worn by village girlsin kerala.) they will heckle you too...THis has nothing to do with Kerala alone.To put things in father used tto recall an incident in the 50s and 60s in Tvm/Kerala where if you went about with Pants(i.e.,men) they wud boo at you..because they thought it was too westernised(the norm being mundu those days). Its better to remember that its a mens world out there..whether you like it or cant say I dont like gravity I want to fly when I feel.
Of course if it had happened to my own sister,I would have been irked but girls in Kerala are brought up in a way to know how to react(or rather ignore) such situations.You are talking only abt cosmos like Chennai,Mumb,Blore where they are used to seeing people of differetn cultures congregate..because of some business activities.This incident in Tvm/Kochi/Kozhik can be repeated anywhere in the towns and villages and not so cosmo cities of TN,Maharashtra and Karnataka..I feel because of their non-cosmo nature.In the US, if you travel to some places in the inlands(away from Metros),whites and blacks will stare at you because they are neither!
I agree its bad and sad ...but so many things in the world are find ways to live around it!

Anoop G said...

in kerala in schools, boys and girls sit in separate benches.. The only time they are seated together is as a punishement.

also families/teachers do not encourage much boy-girl mingling in schools, colleges.

This may be the reason for the bad behaviour of mallus..

but these days rapes, child abuses also are increasing.. but these are happening not alone in kerala..

MC said...

reading some of the comments here, i am just sitting back and shaking my head in disgust. isnt it horrible to know that however disgusting or however pathetic the behavior/ habit is, mallus only try to justify it or brush it aside. and to know that even the youth and children are growing up with such shameless apathy and cold mindedness really disappoints me.

@ displaced_mallu - kindly read what the blanknoiseproject is all about. it might change your opinion.

MC said...

last week there was a report on times, where it showed something like 100-432% increase in abuse/ crime/ atrocities against women and children in kerala over the last 8-10 years! amazing huh?

i guess if we pointed this to a mallu he would say.."oh..its coz women have started dressing improperly"..or "women and children asked for it."

silverine said...

Flaash; Exactly! Here too politics play a huge part in fostering such ideas in the society. They empower these elements as they are their future unionists.

fleiger: This girl was wearing a Salwar. And in Kerala "westernised" has a totaly new meaning. It means a girl who stands up for herself or challenges the male authority. And I go to remote parts of K'taka for birding. The small townsfolk and villagers are so innocent and helpful and respectful.

Pradeep: I agree that we should not get shackled by typecasts etc but right now this problem needs urgent focused attention with strict measures to curb it.

displaced mallu:
"he might have worn clothes or sported a air which might have irked the boys So it is the girls fault now? Should she wear a burkha and what if the Burkha is not to the boys liking? Should she make a make shift tent with wheels and walk underneath it to college? And what if that also irks the boys? I have an idea!!! Let us ban girls altogether form the face of this earth. Kill every girl baby as she is born.Problem solved!!

Sachin: We want the govt to do everything! We are such an apathetic society that it makes me mad!

Anoop: This was not rape, this was a citizen of democratic India's fundamental right to dignity that was curbed. Oh yes, rapes also happen in Kerala just like other states. So we can now be relieved that we are not the only ones *whew*.

MC: "however pathetic the behavior/ habit is, mallus only try to justify it or brush it aside. That is what is sooo maddening!!!
And those figures are startling!

Enigma said...

i had few mall guy frnds. some did show these traits at some point of time :P but whne they got married they listen to their wives :P but preach to other girls reg being a girl yada yada :P

And i have noticed that indian men are consrevative ( i have not visted chins japan so far so i donno abt them) reg how girls dress how they walk how they talk how they sit ho wthey stand! well they are particular not only abt their spouses but also other neighbouring girls :P
Men should be banished frm the face of earth :)

Synapse said...

its boody awful! that some ppl behave like this! i'm sad that it happened in my home city :(

Risha said...

this is my first time at your blog, i was so touched and so filled with anger when i heard read this post. Hats off to the gal, but this situation is so common isnt i wonder if there was any other solution to this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I certainly agree with you. I've first hand experience as i was in Trivandrum during my schooling and + 2 days. Moreover I had to use the road where the wall is shared by the University College to reach mine. :-))

With apologies to Trivandrumites, the obsceinities showered are very intense in TVM compared to Calicut or cochin, I was reluctant to admit this as i keep TVM close to my heart.

silverine said...

enigma: lol you have observed somethings that most people dont! :p

synapse: :(

risha: I hope more and more girls like her will stand up for themselves!

Anon: I didnt want to say this but I have personally observed that Kochi is better than Tvm :)

Anonymous said...

hi I am from Trivandrumand have faced the same throo my school n college life...... I did my masters in a small state called Jharkand which we mallus look down upon... The men there were better behaved... its been around 5 years since I left Kerala..... its sad to say that even today I am most scared to move out in Trivandrum than any other place in India

p.s. I have travelled across the country... no place was as disrespectful as ma own people