Recently, I read an article on CNN’s website. The article was by an American student about the how she found India to be a ‘traveler’s heaven & a woman’s hell’. (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1023053 ) This article made me realize that being ‘stalked, groped & masturbated at’ longer affects me. Eyes staring every inch of my body is a daily routine for me. It’s the bigger stuff that makes me watch over my shoulder: Rape.
Still, I always thought that it could not happen to me. I always thought I am careful enough. I carry pepper spray/Relispray & Swiss knife with me all the time. At late nights & dubious places am always escorted by the men I trust. I mostly drive myself everywhere with glasses of the car rolled up & doors locked. I take the picture of the cabbie & the number plate of the cab & whatsapp it to a friend, each time I hail a taxi. I even carry Hanuman Chalisa with a picture of Hanumanji with me all the time. So yes, I never thought it could happen to me.
Until, I read about Mumbai Gang rape. At first I was angry. A rage always takes over me whenever I hear/read about crime on women. However, this time it was different. This time I was scared. As this time, I knew it could have been me.
The girl who got raped lived my life:
1. She is a journalist
2. Works at Lower Parel (My work place till this Jan)
3. She was out on an assignment to the isolated Shakti Mills with a male colleague at 6pm. My work had sent me to isolated places at times like 3am. I have even been sent to Red Light Area for an assignment.
What happened to her could have happened to me. It was plain luck that it didn’t.
That’s what & a couple articles from across the globe made me realize that I and probably all of us girls everywhere in the world are everyday thinking about how not to get raped. This thought process could be conscious or unconscious. It shows in the adaptations that we have made in our lives.
TOP 10 CONSCIOUS AND SUBCONSCIOUS ADAPTATIONS WE GIRLS HAVE TO AVOID THE THREAT OF RAPE
10. We always try to do things in groups. Running errands, going for shopping, taking morning jogs or going to washrooms in public places.
9. We always avoid going to certain areas in the city as they are not safe.
8. While visiting certain parts of the city we dress up super conservatively.
7. We park our cars in crowded spots. And while driving give left indicator and turn right, just to mislead the bike rider behind us, who was trailing our vehicle.
6. So many of us don’t exercise outside.
5. We limit ours & our daughters’ physical freedom.
4. Most of us, most of the times carry something in our clutch or purse that may come handy as a weapon in case something happens.
3. Many a times we can’t do a project or an assignment at work as it requires us to going to a place that might not be safe. We may come across as unprofessional, we hate it, but we have no choice.
2. This one’s what boys do. The good ones I mean. When they are with a strange woman in a spot they go out of the way to put her at ease. Because they know what we are fearing. A friend once told me that he was walking in an isolated street at night & a girl walking ahead of him. He on purpose slowed his pace & maintained a long distance between them put her at ease.
THE #1 ADAPTATION THAT THIS FEAR HAS LED TO IS
1. We have developed a super human radar. While looking straight, walking down a street, we can always tell exactly how many people are staring at us. Despite the fact that we are talking to person sitting in front of us, we can sense that the guy sitting on table to our right is busy eye fucking us.
This is no way to live. It’s sub human, lame, unfair & pathetic. But do we have a choice? Either this or get harassed.
This life of adapting myself because of the fear of getting raped enrages me.
Anger, rage, fear come & go. What remains is the awareness, that we women, we can’t & shouldn’t expect state/ police/ law or men to fight our battles & bring justice to us. We need to stand up for ourselves. They can join us, support us, but the first step should be ours.
My hope that the situation will change one day is undying. Whenever I feel that this silver lining of the hope is fading, I watch a movie. For me, fiction is the best tool to tackle the reality.
TOP 5 GREAT MOVIES ABOUT WOMEN FOR WOMEN
5. Kill Bill
This movie is to me, is what Rambo is to most guys. What better way to lift my spirits, then watching a girl kick some ass?
4. Run Lola Run
Run Lola Run gives the cliches of Kinght in Shining Armor & a Damsel in distress a break. Lola is a heroine who saves her boyfriend. In the entire movie she’s sprinting with such strength & power that is usually always given to male characters.
3. Cleo from 5 to 7
“Ugliness is a kind of death. As long as I’m beautiful, I’m even more alive than the others.”
That’s what the heroine believed. Who by the way was a cancer patient. But then she realizes life is much more than that. So, she takes off her blonde wig. From wanting to be ‘a woman to be looked at’ to looking at herself & finding who she is. This movie realize that unlike Cindrella I am & should be something more than a ‘thing of beauty’.
2. In Time Time Of The Butterflies
This movie is about how Mirabal sisters opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in Dominican Republic.
The eldest one Minerva, played by Salma Hayek is a revolutionary activist, she’s up against a tyrant & ruthless dictator, she’s also the only female lawyer in a country that forbids women from studying law. However, the most inspiring thing about Minerva for me is when she slaps the dictator/President on the dance floor in the formal ball for touching her inappropriately.
The #1 Movie in the list is
It was a tough call for me to pick between Wadja & In the Times of the Butterflies (ITTOTB) for the number one spot. Then, I realized that ITTOTB is a movie based on an historical indecent. Wadja as a movie can be an incident that may create history.
It is about a girl craving for freedom. All 10-year-old Wadjda wants is a cycle; something that she won’t be able to ride it when she grows into a woman.
The movie is set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – where women are forbidden to walk un-chaperoned or uncovered in the streets. So, the film’s director, Haifaa Al-Mansour, had to instruct her cast and crew on walkie-talkie, from inside a van! It is the first movie ever to be shot by a Saudi woman.
This movie always reinforces my belief that things may not be right now, but someday they will be. But, we woman, we need to act on that wish like Haifaa (the director of Wadja) did.