The other day, one of my friends’ send me this article. It paints a very scary picture of the moral policing done by some very “concerned” citizens in the state I come from. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. True, my state has always been conservative and not safe for women and all that but, I never expected married couples and siblings and whole families to be targeted. What horror! Being hauled up while travelling with your sibling, being asked for proof of being married to the guy/ girl you happen to be travelling with, being almost arrested for “illegal/ immoral activities” when all you were doing was having a fun time with your friends, being questioned for having a live- in relationship- all by random strangers who think it is their duty to preserve the moral fabric of the state. And even the so called law enforcers siding with them.
What century are we living in? And what happened to individual rights and choice and all that? Does this mean that I’ll have to carry around proof of my Dad being actually my Dad, my husband being really my husband and my sister being my own flesh and blood? And who died and made these men the custodians of morality and all that? These men who won’t think twice before roughing up a woman, or behaving in the most crass manner with women old enough to be their mothers or grandmothers, what moral values do they have? And why this acute nosiness? Why can’t these people bloody well mind their own business? The article quotes an instance of a brother- sister duo being hauled up by police for travelling together Apparently someone travelling in the bus thought they looked like eloping lovers. WTF!! What business is it of his even if they are eloping lovers? They have a right to elope if they want to- provided both of them are of the legal age to get married and all, if you want to get into the nitty gritties of things. And they have a right to live their life without interference from these nosy parkers.
The article also mentions an incident where a girl was roughed up by a handful of very drunk men because she happened to be travelling with a collegue on his motorbike. Apparenly it wasn’t proper moral conduct and these men wanted to teach the girl a lesson. Wat kind of lesson? For all they know, the girl’s parents or whoever else is “responsible” for her would have been aware of the fact that she was travelling with a collegue. People tell us women that its always safe to travel with a friend, or relative or colleague and this is what happens when we do.
Who gave these drunkards the right to beat her up? And what astounds me is the fact that the police seem to be siding with these men. Aren’t they supposed to exist for the sake of enforcing the law? And where in our constitution is there a law that says that a girl is not supposed to travel with her colleague? There is also the story of a man who was travelling with his wife and his mother in law and was stopped by a bunch of men who wanted to know how he was related to the women in the car. They refused to buy his explanation and insisted in believing that the women were prostitues. What business is it of these men to question this guy? Imagine how scarred the women and the man must have been from that single incident!
There is also a police commissioner who took it upon himself to ban guys from wearing low waist jeans and stuff. Now there are already severe restrictions on dressing and stuff in most colleges these days- for both guys and girls. Why go on to impose more? My degree days were pretty ok. There weren’t many restrictions on us, but still, any parent would be scared to send their daughters out dressed in anything other than salwars especially if they happen to be travelling by public transport. Not that any amount of covering oneself up helps. Its not like age or dressing or anything is a deterrent for men in God’s own country whose sole aim in life is to make life miserable for women. During my masters, the college I studied in had a strict dress code- salwars or sarees only on campus. It was a residential campus and very very safe. Yet, we had to adhere to a dress code. My working days in Chennai were a nightmare- especially travels by bus. Pinching, poking, grabbing- the usual drama. And most of these men would wait until you were getting off the bus to grab you. That way you don’t get time to react right? One had to be scared to even bargain too much with auto drivers. A college girl in Chennai got beaten up by an auto guy when she complained about him asking for a higher fare than what they had agreed on. And people just stood around watching the whole drama unfold. How could you muster enough courage to bargain with these kind of monsters?
And now with men like these prowling the streets looking for another victim to harass, and with the very “efficient” police force backing them, how can people like you and me step out in public and feel safe? How can I go out with my family and not feel scared that we will be stopped by some random people and harassed, with people asking us for IDs and suff? How can I go out with my group of friends for a movie or for lunch or get together at someone’s house and not have people coming in and labelling me a slut? How can I go out with my husband without having my marriage certificate laminated and displayed around my neck for everyone to see? And how can the law makers and enforcers let these people roam free- disrupting peace and harassing innocents? How can they turn a blind eye when men like these go around bashing up people and making false claims and allegations and interfering in others lives and generally playing with the law?
I can go on and tell you hundreds of horror stories- personal and otherwise. My state boasts of one of the highest literacy rates anywhere in the world. Yet people seem to grow up with a very stunted intellect and thinking capability. They say its a place where they worship women as godesses. Thats probably the only time women are given some amount of respect. Else they are treated in the most despicable manner imaginable- they are tortured, leered at and made to feel unsafe in their very own homes sometimes. I say the law give us the right to defend ourselves. I say let us carry around guns or matchets or whatever- thats the only defence against these kind of men who just want to make trouble for us. Let us shoot these mischief makers and gropers and flashers in the balls if that’s what it takes to teach them a lesson. I think that’s the only way. With the police also turning a blind eye, we women will have to take our safety into out own hands. Who’s with me?