When my duppatta is out of place, I am given two kinds of stare; one by my elders asking me to put it in place, the other by men who take an x-ray scan of my body. When I am out late at night, I get many a stare and sometimes sneering voices that say, ‘Let me drop you at home’ meaning they are up to no good. When I am molested, the society blames me & my family. They look down upon us like we are some filthy slime that shouldn’t have existed. And finally when I suicide or die because of an injury from gang rape, they say, ‘She needs justice!’ and they also say, ‘Good that she died, else she would have had to live with it.’
This is India where my modesty is more important than my life.

The other day, I came across a post on Facebook where it said how the rapists ought to be punished. There were umpteen comments mostly by men most of which said, ‘People! Understand one thing. Rape cannot be committed without the permission of a woman.’ Others said, ‘I have seen the clothes that women wear and for that, they ought to be punished.’ What I never understood was why anybody even in the slightest of their dreams would wish that someone gets raped!? The solution lies in changing these attitudes. Instead people go behind trying to change women’s dressing styles. Clothes can be torn no matter how covered they are!

‘Education begins at home’, is the famous cliche that we all have grown up with. To begin the change, begin at home. Talk to your sons about women, about what they go through and about the rapes. Tell him she is not the one to be controlled and coerced. Tell him that rapes are committed once women are unconscious or beaten black & blue and when they are helpless. They never ask for it. Tell him they deserve respect and not the filthy scanning look.

Continue the same in the classrooms- An education once a year probably on women’s day. The education must include not just the moral ‘Do not rape’ but it should also include ‘Do not let rapes happen’. This will not completely eliminate the probability of rapes, but it could reduce it. One day, when a student from this group sees someone being molested or harassed, he could come to her rescue. It could help at least one woman.

Let the women know that they deserve to wear clothes in which they are confident but, the clothes shouldn’t lose their purpose. Clothes are meant to cover and if they don’t serve the purpose, people tend to look. It makes others uncomfortable. This may not lead to rapes but this definitely leads to eve teasing, harassment and unnecessary problems.

Speaking of the uneducated part of India, they may not receive the moral education from home and school. Here, definitely prevention is the priority. Avoid going out alone during the dark hours, carry a pepper spray, keep talking over the phone so that someone knows where you are etc are the common & sensible methods to stay safe. Along with this, a law that punishes & spreads fear would reduce the crime at least by 1%.

Our constitution revels in the mantra, ‘Even if a thousand criminals escape, not one innocent should be punished.’ But when we think deeper into this, we realize that every time a criminal escapes, a thousand innocents are under threat. Same is the case here. If one among those rapists are set free, they take it as a sign to continue doing such crimes. Hence the most brutal and fear penetrating punishments should be given and the same must be broadcast in such a way that before doing such a deed, they get reminded of the consequence.

The beginning of it all is in spreading awareness. Voice your thoughts, your fears and ideas. I had personally written my feelings on this topic earlier and few of my colleagues (men) who read them said, ‘I never thought this from women’s point of view. I never knew this is how you people feel when men eve teases you or touch you wrong. I was shaken after I read it that, for a few days I found it difficult to even look at women casually. Not that I eve tease. But I was hurt to know how this hurt you people.’
This is the change in thoughts we need in all. And this awareness that women have feelings should spread.

With time, I will be somebody’s wife, a mother and probably an inspiration to someone. Some day in future, I aspire to be a teacher, I aspire to write novels and inspire my students and readers. I will use my ability of inspiration and spread this message through my students and readers. I will inspire them to spread the fire. This is my promise to myself, India and the entire humanity. Because, I believe the change begins with me.

PS – This post is on behalf of the endeavour ‘Ring a bell’ by Indiblogger www.bellbajao.org