It was 11PM and I had stepped out to put some things in the common corridor. I got a sense of deja vu and all those memories came flooding back.This innocuous act of stepping out of the house in the middle of the night to go to a corridor/balcony/terrace, I take for granted now and do without thinking twice is often not allowed in India for women.
I have always loved sitting on the terrace and watching the night sky. I remembered people (neighbours etc) telling me on so many occasions to step back into the house because it was considered inappropriate. It used to irritate me that I was not allowed to enjoy something I loved in my own house because people could see me on my terrace. Despite this, I have spent countless hours on my terrace but it reminded me of so many women who do not have that opportunity because their families didn’t let them. A young unmarried girl sitting alone in her own balcony/terrace is threatening to so many people. The only reasons any female would sit alone on her terrace/balcony would be –
- She is meeting her lover clandestinely
- She wants to attract attention, so she deserves to be harassed
The whole logic is retarded. We have built so many useless rules around women to control their behaviour in every tiny situation. Most of them do not make a difference in anybody’s lives but everybody takes it upon them to enforce these dumb ‘rules’.
Over time, my memory of these restrictions has dulled as I haven’t faced them in years, some even when I was in India though I knew people who did. Other examples of minute freedom not given to women include –
- Wearing a proper night dress without petticoat underneath and a dupatta over it
- Going braless at home
- Going out anytime of the day or night
- Cooking or not cooking
- Wearing whatever clothes they feel like
- Not wearing jewellery
- Doing certain things/touching certain things on periods
- Staying home alone
These examples may seem trivial when compared to major issues like lack of healthcare, education, child marriage but they are equally important because we deprive women of leading wholesome free lives by controlling them for irrelevant things and chip away at their life quality.