In this powerful piece, Urvashi Agrawal voices her concern on various aspects of the tribulation that the women of this country face namely, Sexual Harassment.
I am a girl. I live with my family. I go out to study. I travel to my workplace. I do party with my friends. But, if you ask me if I feel safe, the answer is a big NO. From my house, to school, to travelling by public transport, I don’t feel safe anywhere. I know I am vulnerable to being sexually harassed every other day of my life.
Sexual harassment has different definitions for different people. For a common man, it means sexual abuse or rape, etc. But actually even the slightest unwanted action which makes a girl or women uncomfortable is sexual harassment. It may range from whistles and remarks of a random guy on the road to someone trying to feel us up in a crammed metro or bus or any other act of that sort. In fact, in many cases, the person need not touch or do something physically. Those eyes filled with lust which look at a girl just like a lion looks at its meat are horrifying enough. This is unfortunate, but almost every girl or women experiences some form of sexual harassment in her life.
The conditions are so bad that every morning when a girl leaves her house, she is under a fear. She is not sure that she will be returning home safely or not. Why has the society become like this? A man can travel the world wearing his shorts and nobody says a word. But when it is a girl, she can’t go even to the local market without getting the feeling of being surrounded by kerb-crawlers.
Sexual harassment has become a mindset, a habit of people. And the society has also unfortunately accepted it. If a girl is returning home at night after work or after partying with her friends, and something happens to her, most of the people retort by saying that girl should not have worn such short clothes or you should not be travelling alone at night amongst other things. Why is this? Why is the girl put to blame every time? If a man cannot control his lust, it is not the girl’s fault. Every girl deserves a right to go where she wants, wear what she wants and say what is on her mind without being questioned.
Most parents ask their daughters to come home on time, not to make many guy friends, etc. But how many parents ask their sons not to tease a girl or not to do anything wrong with a girl who is friends with them?Men think of it as their right to harass women. They think that it is not a big deal. They don’t realise that what they are doing is actually a criminal offence. Though the Indian Penal Code does not define the word eve-teasing, there are three sections which deal with crime of sexual-harassment. These are Sections 509, 294 and 354 of the IPC. These sections make gestures or acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman or acts intrude upon her privacy a, crime. For a girl, every glare, every comment is no less than a scar on her mind. And she has the right to raise her voice against it.
Examples of women like Kalpana Chawla, PratibhaPatil & Indira Nooyi prove to the world statement that women are empowered now. But many Kalpanas and Pratibhas are still groped in crowded places every day. On one hand, a Sunita Williams has reached the moon while on the other, somewhere some Sunita is being raped at this very moment.
This needs to change. We as women and foremost as humans want sexual harassment of women and girls to end. Sexual harassment can take place anywhere and at anytime. And those who witness it, are not supposed to laugh at it, or avoid it, but react to it. The role of a by-stander is very important in such cases. If someone intervenes, it discourages the offender. So whenever you see someone being harassed, go and intervene, call the police, or do anything which is needed for the situation. It gives a support to that girl or woman. It makes her feel that she is not alone. It gives her the courage to fight back. We girls and ladies are not to be objectified. We want the surroundings to be safe for us. We want to be respected. We don’t want to be afraid when our auto has to pass through an empty road. We don’t want a separate women’s coach. We want to be comfortable in the general coach instead. We want this society to be a better place for us. WE WANT A SAFE SOCIETY TO LIVE IN.