My article in Desicritics on the Mumbai molestation incident, and what it shows us about attitudes to women in our society.
When I read newspapers, I subconsciously put on my thick-steeled mental armor. Reports of accidents, deaths, murders all bounce off me and I feel nothing, just numb. But some news articles somehow pierce through my armor plates. The Mumbai molestation incident was one such report.
I was horrified that such an incident should have happened, and in Mumbai of all places. Clearly, this is not how we treat women in our culture. Clearly, the lowlives in question have grossly misbehaved and should be punished. This much was clear to me.
Sadly, apparently not everyone thinks this way. What saddens me is how other people reacted to this news, and what it tells us about our society and the status of women in our society.
I am shocked when I read articles blaming the women in question. These opinions are everywhere – from political parties to bloggers, there are many voices that have commented that somehow, the women must have brought it on themselves.
To all those who think this way, tell me, how can you even think of blaming the victims? Why do people blame “disco culture” and “pubbing”? Why is it wrong for women to stay out late but perfectly all right for men to do the same? Are women under some kind of martial law?
Why is it wrong for women to drink but socially acceptable for men to do so? Not that there any reports of the women in question being drunk or misbehaving. Let’s get this straight, the women did not misbehave here, it was some men who did, so please stop blaming the victims!
Think about it. If you go on the path of blaming the women for every crime committed against them, where will you stop? You can blame any aspect of a woman’s appearance. Long hair, short hair, supposedly tight clothing, jeans, T shirts, shorts anything can be an excuse for boorish behavior by men. Next, you will blame women for wearing make-up or showing their hair. Where does this all end?
Are women only safe when they stay at home all day? Or will you assume they are safe at home, because by then they are too frightened to report any crime? Abuse does happen even within homes. Rape, incest, domestic violence, these will happen even if they stay at home. I am sure you will think of some reason to blame those women as well.
Please stop trying to impose restrictions on women. It is not the tight clothing the woman wears that causes the issue, it is the dirty thoughts and actions of a few perverted men. I wish everyone would accept this fact and not try to pass the blame.
This is not an issue specific to the 14 men who were charged. It is not specific to the larger mob that attacked the women. It is not even specific to New Year’s eve, or Mumbai. None of our cities are safe for women, at night or even in many parts, in daytime.
Violence against women is not based on what clothes they wear, or anything they do. Violence happens because men know they can get away with it. If we had a policy of zero tolerance towards such incidents, even men with twisted minds will think twice before misbehaving.
But no, we have a society which winks at the men and blames the women. Here lies the larger problem. We have a society that is still deeply ambivalent in its attitudes about women. We deify women, but we also demonize them. We discriminate against them, we deride them. In short, we never believe that they are really entitled to the same rules and the same freedom that we unquestioningly accord men.
The Mumbai molestation is not an isolated incident. Crimes like this will continue to happen, until we stop thinking these are just the fault of a few twisted minds. No, those men have just taken the principle that women are unequal to their extreme.
Those molesters treated those women as objects, not human beings. But the rest of society is not treating women as equal human beings either.