I can’t get over the fifteen year old girl who committed suicide in Mangalore, and I can’t get over some people saying the Pink Chaddi Campaign by Consortium of Pubgoing Loose and Forward Women is not dignified !!
Here are my thoughts on both, because both are linked to the conditioning that led to this thinking.
When I was young, I found and read from a scrap of Rajasthan Patrika (a Hindi Newspaper) and asked my mother,
“What is balaatkaar?’
“Where did you read this word? … err.. when someone tries to kill a girl, it is called balaatkaar.”
Of course I sensed it was more, I had seen the sudden horror on her face. I was not expected to hear of such words.
“So now what will she do? Will she have to kill herself?”
“What? Why will she kill herself? That only happens in the movies! This will be considered a bad accident and she will live a normal life.”
But apart from that first time, whenever we read of any news of any girls being sexually assaulted my mom’s reaction was always, “Now who asked her to go out so late at night!/be in the wrong place/ be with the wrong people? …etc”
It was always the girl’s fault.
When we were preparing for our ICSE – just a month or so before the exams a friend and I stepped out of my house, we were discussing some school stuff like all students do, when this man in a white dhoti – decided we needed to be taught a lesson, he looked old, probably was a construction worker, and he decided to let us know that he had not (yet) been bobitted.
I never said a word to anybody. We did not even say anything to each other.
I did not know what I felt. I felt I was made dirty? And basic common sense said it couldn’t possibly be wrong to have stepped out of out our house, and walked till the friend’s house in the same colony, in broad daylight.
I think most women do not know what to feel. Anger? Hurt? Disgust? Loathing? Self-loathing? Our conditioning makes us feel dirty for something someone else did …and our common sense refuses to accept that.
If somebody had said I was at fault then maybe I would have accepted that too.
Nobody tells us what to feel…. and yet they do it all the time. Everything around us tells us to feel guilty.
We should hear voices categorically condemning such acts. I was not yet fifteen, and although we had a Biology chapter on Reproduction, we were told nothing about what really mattered. Somebody should have.
But today I know my daughter would know how to feel.
And one thing I am sure of – that she would feel NO GUILT.
She would feel, ‘B*&^^% pervert, needs to be bobbitted!‘ She would walk home and throw an angry fit, maybe cry if she feels really angry and helpless.
But whatever else she feel she would never, ever feel GUILTY.
She may wish him dead but she would never, ever feel the need to take her own life like this young girl – a year younger than her, somewhere near Mangalore did.
And how I hate everyone who allowed this to happen.
So I say this, even if the whole world pointed a finger at my daughter and said, “But he must have graphically imagined how you looked inside that T shirt/jeans/etc.” She would have no hesitation in couriering a packet of pink chaddis to let him know he does not have the power to humiliate her until she allows him to do that.
How can any passerby on the road make any girl feel shame, for something HE did?
That is what the Pink Chaddis Campaign is about. The message being – ‘Our dignity is ours. No act of hooliganism, no street sexual assault (euphemistically called eve-teasing), no stripping and walking us in the streets of Orissa, no tearing of our clothes in pubs, no filthy acts of yours can SHAME US. THIS SHAME BELONGS TO YOU.’
And I talk about my daughter because she is not my HONOUR. She is not this family’s, her dad’s, her uncle’s, her brother’s, and her cousins’, and every other man in the family’s izzat/pagdi/honor/dignity… She is our child. And we will never degrade her by calling her our Dignity.
We take full responsibility for our own honors and dignities and this young lady is never going to be anything less than just another family member here.
Get my point?
So let’s please take control of our dignity. Let’s tell Mangalore molesters that they cannot even take our Dignity in their hands.