|Image from Economic Times|
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I was seven, in Kanpur when I was eve teased the first time. I didn’t know what it meant. I knew it was something horrible because my mum banned me from traveling in rickshaws from then on. If I did, I had to have the rickshaw hood up and the rickshaw guy had to be someone we knew.
My mum and I were in the rickshaw, getting back from school, happily chatting about my day when a hand slipped under my skirt at the traffic light. I screamed, my mum screamed and the poor old rickshaw guy got down to slap the man, whose face I still remember. The men standing there laughed and mocked the rickshaw fellow and we meekly left.
This was the first.
From then on, I never left my guard down. I became angry.
One of the first things my mum taught me as I was growing up was how to be a lady. Always cross your legs, don’t giggle too much in front of men and hold your head high. But she never taught me how to react when someone violated my personal space, made me feel like I’m an object and looked at me with those disgusting eyes that I wanted to pull out.
I often wondered as I left home at the age of sixteen, started staying alone and had to be extra careful about my own safety, where so much anger inside me came from?
I moved to Delhi after a few relatively ‘safer years’ in Maharashtra and understood exactly where and how this stemmed from my very core.
I traveled in buses with pepper spray, wore loose clothing, crossed my arms and carried safety pins. This is how I went to college.
I could protect my chest, but I couldn’t protect my ass.
In my mind I would have visions of killing and torturing these men who salivated looking at me. I have to admit, I thought of killing very often. I am human after all.
I have been in Dubai since the past three years and it was only after the incident in Delhi recently that made me realize what a calmer person, moving to the Middle East has made me. I haven’t been angry in three years until now that I see the chaos in my country and being a citizen, I need to stand up to this horrible mess.
As a woman, you never should let your guard down is something I have learned and practice.
But in my city, I can walk out at 11PM, catch a cab, go to a bar and meet some friends without thinking twice. I know this because I know my rights as a woman are protected. I know that the punishment for anyone misbehaving with me is a death penalty and it will be taken. The law will ALWAYS be on my side in case of an issue like this. I am confident that the government or police will not violate me in any manner but protect me.
When I told my mum once on how I wanted to report some hooligan’s to the Delhi police, her reaction was, ‘Don’t, they might lock you up and rape you’.
This is the world we live in, Sir.
I am today; glad to be staying out of my country.
After traveling to several countries alone, I am traveling to India today and for the first time in my life, I am scared to go back home.
Pleading you to think and act,
An Indian Woman