Even if Poonam does not run naked, she should be punished?

Model Poonam Pandey’s plan to strip if India beat Sri Lanka Saturday has angered the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) women’s wing which has sought police action against her.

“Indian women are revered and respected since time immemorial…”

How exactly do we show this reverence to women? Please do compare this to how we show respect to everybody else.

Can threats be called ‘respect’?

I have so much respect for you; don’t ask to eat with the rest of the family. Your happiness lies in seeing us enjoy the food you cook.”  Is that respect?

So basically,

If you disagree we can’t respect you.

Don’t try to give your point of view, we won’t be able to respect you…

Little girls earn this respect by respecting the fact that they are always second to their brothers. “What’s wrong with that, don’t they love their brothers?

It’s more like a Terror of Respect.

Do as you are told or else we will not ‘respect’ you.

Dress only the way we permit or else…

Don’t choose your life partner or else…

Let your husband and his family abuse you, or else…

Give us a male heir or else…

Don’t enter the temple, you are impure…

And worst,

Don’t complain if you were sexually harassed, molested or abused or else no respect.

So, when it comes to women, it seems respect is more a means to control than a privilege.

I would say the only kind of respect that matters is the respect we have for ourselves. Or Respect that is given in return of respectequal and mutual. All other forms of reverence and respect are not too far from ‘honor’ and ‘honor killing’ or honor related abetted suicides.

Kelkar objected to Poonam ‘sullying the image of Indian women before the whole world.’ (Read Bhagwad’s objections to granting Poonam such powers)

Another man thinks her actions can sully the name of his caste. So obviously this lawyer believes there are no Brahmin rapists, child abusers  and murderers? Or these crimes don’t insult Indian culture?

“Even if Poonam does not run naked, she should be punished as she not only gave a wrong impression of the (Brahmin) community but insulted Indian culture,” The case will be heard April 5. (Today)

We live in an India where some people can legally express their arrogant, sexist and casteist opinions and offend my democratic and tolerant sentiments. I find it difficult to understand or ‘respect’ such frivolous objections. Are they doing this for free publicity? In a country where rape victims have to wait for years for justice, aren’t such cases a waste of time and resources?

Thankfully we are a civilized, democratic society. Poonam Pandey, Rakhi Sawant and Mallika Sherawat are generally free to ignore these opinions or react (if required) through a civilized, legal process.  No stoning. No anti-blasphemy laws.

And that is something I respect about my country. 🙂

Women who value the respect they have for themselves more than the respect of every wannbe politician, publicity seeker, neighour’s third cousin etc are able to fight back.

Sraboney shared this video where this Pakistani actor Veena Mallik is fighting back against similar allegations. Makes me wonder if hypocrites are the same everywhere.

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

Sometimes one crime and how it is reported tells so much about a society.

‘Five drunken young men from a nearby farming village accosted a couple…, beating the young man and gang-raping the woman. It was the latest in a series of brutal sexual assaults and gang rapes of women in India’s booming capital and its sprawling suburbs.’ (Thanks for the link RenKiss)

“The attackers often do not see their actions as crimes, the police said, and do not expect the women they attack to report them. “They have no doubt that they will get away with it,” said H. G. S. Dhaliwal, a deputy police commissioner in New Delhi who has investigated several such cases.”

We shall soon see where the attackers get so much confidence from.

Let’s believe the attackers really don’t see a gang rape as a crime, or at least not a serious crime.

How do they get this idea? This news report illustrates how. It’s a perfect example of how sexual crimes must NOT be reported.

One example,

“In each case there has been an explosive clash between the rapidly modernizing city and the embattled, conservative village culture upon which the capital increasingly encroaches.”

Why this effort to explain the rapists’ point of view?

And the facts are inaccurate. These rapes are a result of clashes of culture?
So rapists (some with previous criminal backgrounds) don’t rape women from their villages? (Click if you think they don’t.)

Going by the above logic a 6 month old or a 2 year old would be safe in these ‘sleepy villages’ with narrow lanes ‘redolent of cow dung’, since these babies are not ‘enjoying’ any unheard of freedoms, or romancing forbidden lovers?

What about when village girls looking for jobs in Delhi get raped by WagonR owners?

“India’s economy is expected to grow 9 percent this year, and its extended boom has brought sweeping social change. The number of women in the workforce has roughly doubled in the past 15 years.”

Can’t really blame the rapists, can we? How are they expected to adjust to ‘sweeping social changes’ and women doubling in workforce?

So women who stay inside their homes and whose lives signify no social changes are safer?

More facts.

A 60 year old, raped by her husband’s employer in her house (this rapist was earlier acquitted in a rape case), another 77 year old raped by a rikshaw puller, an 8 year old in her house, a 12 year old by her driver, 17 year old daughter of a Grade IV employee in Lady Hardinge Hospital, a 9 year old in Sarojini Nagar in her house, a 3 year old

[All examples are from Delhi]

The victims are almost invariably young, educated working women who are enjoying freedom unknown even a decade ago. The accused are almost always young high school dropouts from surrounding villages, where women who work outside the home are often seen as lacking in virtue and therefore deserving of harassment and even rape.”

Examples above show this is not true.

FACT.

Who gets raped?

Everyone. According to some statistics, only one in 69 rape cases in India are even reported. Only 20 % of those reported result in convictions for the rape accused.

Rapes happen across the social strata in India. In the Indian villages, it is the poor villager’s wife or sister or daughter who gets raped by another poor rowdy villager, and everyone from the local thanedar to the landlord. These rapes, unless the news becomes public due to unavoidable reasons, are never reported. It is reported in the newspapers or reaches the police only when a rape becomes part of a larger caste battle, family feud or political game. [Click to read and save the entire, very well written  article.]

“Seema Chowdhury, 20, the sister of one of the accused men, graduated from high school. But when she tried to enroll in college to become a teacher, her brothers refused to allow it. Young women who wander too far face many dangers, they argued.

“I wanted to do something in my life,” she said. “But they thought it was not a good idea.”

It’s so nice to see they are family men and want to see their sisters safe from men like themselves. Maybe such nice men can’t really be blamed for doing something they don’t see as a crime?

In comparison, the young woman who was raped here had unimaginable freedom. She had a job as an accountant at a garment factory and her own cellphone and e-mail account. Using those, she carried on a secret romance with a young man she met online despite the fact that her parents had arranged for her to be married to someone else, according to the police.”

Rape justification continues, so does victim blaming. The girl was asking for it by being in the wrong place, in wrong company, at a wrong time and doing the wrong thing – basically breaking all the rules these nice rapists lay down for their own nice and hence safe sister. Also note, the notorious cell phone and the internet being used to carry on a  ‘romance’ when her nice parents have arranged a nice match for her elsewhere. Maybe she asked for it?

If she was a Swiss Diplomat, working with full permission of her parents, not meeting her secret lover, she would have been safer?

When they picked up Tony …he was still drunk, Mr. Singh said.

“He was so shameless he narrated the whole thing without any sense of remorse,” he said. Tony later denied that he had raped the woman, according to the police report.

Tony had apparently assumed that the rape victim would not come forward because the shame would be too great.

Why don’t the victims feel more angry than ashamed?

This newly-wed’s rapists were also given a subtle benefit of rape justification’ because she probably opened the door and offered a glass of juice to her rapist and murderer. Did she know the rapist? That might justify the rape?

It has become a strategy to talk about a victim’s ‘shame’ instead of pointing out the rate of conviction, as reason for women not reporting.

If a victim was assured support instead of blame, do you think she would not have complained?

“on Feb. 5 a young man came into police station to report that his cellphone and laptop had been stolen. When the young man claimed they had been snatched near some isolated farmland at the edge of the city, Mr. Singh became suspicious: it was an unlikely place for a robbery.

He pressed for details, and eventually the young man admitted taking his girlfriend to the secluded area so they could be alone, and that five men had beaten him and raped her.”

Why didn’t the man want to say anything about the rape? He too had little faith in the police, and, he knew a couple being alone in a secluded spot would be seen as a bigger crime than a gang rape.

“I realized from the beginning that the girl would not help us,” the police said.

“The police will not be able to restore my honor.”

Is it really about honor?

Why don’t women report rapes to the police?

We all have heard about shame and honor etc. But there’s more.

Police. Police is the reason.

Have you ever taken a good look at the average Indian policeman? have you ever been to a police station?

A police station is an intimidating place. The cultural sophistication of the average policeman in India is pretty much that of the average roadside thug. Your average policeman hardly knows how to talk politely, is barely educated, is uncouth, brash and rude.

Is this the paragon of sensitivity a victim of rape will run to?

Add to this the rising number of custodial rapes which every one knows about. People will turn to a policeman only when they are desperate. Educated, rich people are abused by the police in India routinely and they have to call upon their networks and call upon little netas to get the policemen to treat them with some consideration.

Expect a policeman to humiliate a rape victim, turn her back, discourage her, be foul-mouthed or maybe rape her in turn.” [Click to read the article]

*

Such reporting tells a rapist that when his mother claims, “If these girls roam around openly like this, then the boys will make mistakes.” someone looking to justify rape will promptly quote her with some satisfaction.

What else do we say that gives rapists so much confidence?

Related posts:

The rapists are listening gratefully.

If he were a a woman he would have filed a case against a man everyday.

Updated:

Another example of Victim Blaming by New York Times:
Victim-blaming in the New York Times’ Cleveland gang rape article.

(Thank You Ankita Prasad)

This is the root of the problem. Do you agree?

She couldn’t have been more than 50, born not before 1961. (She wasn’t sure).

Your brother is ten years older than you? That’s a lot of age difference!”

“There were four daughters in between, Dadaji didn’t ‘keep’ them… Ma used to say, if he was alive when I was born, I wouldn’t have lived either.”

[55 words fiction. Not really fiction.]

Do you think Indian (or Chinese) parents can start valuing their female babies, just because they are told that’s the right thing to do?

I found this article while looking for something else, sums up what I believe. Do you agree with what it says?

The strongest son preference is evident in societies which are rigidly patrilineal and patrilocal.

Patri-lineality implies that group membership and productive assets are passed on through the male line.

Patrilocality implies that it is normative for a woman to take up residence with her husband’s family after marriage often outside her parental village.

In these societies, in which both inheritance and marriage rules are heavily weighted in favor of men, women have little economic independence or autonomy.

Furthermore, since daughters move away from their birth homes after marriage, parents can have little expectation of subsequent physical or emotional sustenance from them since they are not living in close proximity.

Even if women are educated and employed, the fruits of their labor are monopolized by their husband’s family, and parents cannot claim a share of their daughters earnings. On the other hand, a son is expected to provide his parents with economic security and insurance. He is also expected to bring in a daughter in law who will take care of his parents physical needs in their old age.

In these societies, women also gain in prestige and status if they bear sons to continue the family line, so both women and men have a strong interest in producing sons.

In some patrilineal societies, there are additional norms which increase the burden to parents of raising daughters. Religious beliefs and social customs such as dowry and purdah serve as further instruments of patriarchal control, and reinforce son preference.

Furthermore, family honor often depends on the purity of patriarchal descent, which requires ensuring women’s sexual purity. This often entails secluding women from outside activities which implies reduced income-earning opportunities and marrying them off at young ages, before they have had a chance to develop into independent people.

In contrast, where kinship rules and norms make fewer distinctions between males and females, women have greater voice in the household and in public spaces, and face fewer constraints in becoming independent economic and social actors. In these societies, women are not constrained from providing old-age support to parents, and are valued accordingly. [Link]

So there is only one way Indian parents will begin to value their girl children. They should find them as much worth having as male children. Patrilocality and Patrilineality will have to go. All children should have equal rights and responsibilities, they should move to their own homes when they marry, and parents of both should be able to see them as support in their old age.

This is happening of course, but very slowly.

Do you remember this murdered couple who made a ‘dramatic reappearance’?

Let me try to explain why I generally find it difficult to believe what the police says.

“Lucknow, May 9 – A couple in Uttar Pradesh declared dead by police in an ‘honour killing’ Sunday made a dramatic reappearance, even as an incensed father threw his daughter from the roof of his house after her ’secret’ marriage, while another girl was killed for insisting on marrying according to her choice.

Ajit Saini and Anju Tomar of Muzaffarnagar district, who were declared dead by police after disappearing for the past few days, followed by the identification of a highly mutilated body as that of Saini, showed up before the police in the district.

Anju’s brother, Anuj was arrested Saturday and admitted to murdering Ajit.

‘I hacked him for the sake of honour… I wanted to save the prestige of my family and, therefore, killed him,’ Anuj told reporters. Police suspected that Anuj had killed his sister as well.

Saini and Anju had eloped, and on reading news reports about their ‘murder’, promptly called one of their relatives who, in turn, informed the Muzaffarnagar police.

Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal however maintained that the police were not at all at fault. ‘The police most naturally believed the confession by Anju’s brother. And what further confirmed the theory was the identification of the body by Ajit’s own family members,’ he said.” [Link]

This is just one such case, there are sure to be more like the teenager who was raped in Banda and then accused of stealing a cell phone to protect the rapist, “During preliminary inquiry, it was found that the 17-year-old girl was not only raped by the member of legislative assembly, but was also framed in a false theft case

How difficult would it have been to get a “confession” from Rajesh Talwar if it had not become such a high profile case’?

Dr Talwar said,

1.”I pleaded with this man to at least let me make a phone call or call a lawyer. I said, “I’m entitled to it. It’s my fundamental right as a citizen of this country.” The magistrate just looked at me in disgust. “Ja yahan se” (Get out of here).”

2. “The policemen produced a paper and asked me to sign it, and I had the presence of mind to tell them I will not sign anything. …I kept screaming that I was being framed. By this time the TV channels were all over the place… A policeman was saying, “Hum tere ko maar denge” – “We will kill you.”

3. They forced me to sign a confession. I wrote on the piece of paper in Englishwhich they couldn’t readthat it was not true.

4. Goli had been in and out of prison all his life, for small thefts, and so on. Apparently he would be picked up by the police whenever they needed a suspect for some crime.

A Sari to make you a Respectable Indian Teacher.

A local government college in Bhopal has banned jeans pants for lady teachers instructing them to wear saris while in the campus.

A spokesman of the management of Sarojini Naidu (Nutan) College said that the decision was taken to instil Indian culture in the college.

He said that till now, teachers were wearing salwar suits, kurtas and jeans due to which it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between them and students.

The spokesman said that a similar decision on enforcing a dress code for students would also be enforced from the next session.

“A dress code for students cannot be enforced during the middle of an academic session,” he said.

Or watch the news here.

“There is a personality of a teacher. You are standing wearing anything, or jeans that look vulgar, that is not right. Even students do not respect you as they think. So, this is very important,” said Pandit. (A teacher)

Should colleges be telling the students that traditional clothing can make a female wearer look ‘respectable‘? And so not wearing a sari does exactly the opposite?

Why is a salwar kameez – very much a traditonal Indian outfit, less respectable?

One assumption could be that the sari makes a woman look older. Also traditionally, in some parts of India, all married women must wear sari. I have blogged about meeting someone who thought that married women who do not wear sari are doing it behind their in laws’ and husband’s backs.

Bombay High Court held that a marriage can’t be ended over a sari.

The college could to be trying to say that a teacher in a sari is seen as older and ‘respectably married’ (or at least marriageable).

This is how stereotypes are created.

Is it okay for a college to ask the students to associate ‘respect’ (or honor!) with sari and vulgarity with Jeans?

“In thousands of ways, our culture has conditioned us to anticipate rape as a natural consequence of violating social norms”. These misconceptions are responsible for women blaming themselves for sexual crimes against themselves (…makes it easier for those who don’t care to take action).

The male teachers are not expected to wear dhoti and achkan. Doesn’t the college think the students need to respect the male teachers too? Why teach the students that double standards and gender bias are acceptable?

Has the college really given this a thought? There are many who think sari is ‘sensual’.  Jeans are actually seen as comfortable and easy wear, and saris as ‘dressy’ by many others. Many others feel sari is not easy to maintain or move in, and not weather appropriate, while jeans and salwar kameez are.

Also consider why is it so essential for the female teachers (if at all) to look ‘different from students’? What if a teacher continues to look like one of the students (i.e. young and unmarried) no matter what she wears?

And most importantly, shouldn’t an adult female wearer (like the rest of the population) be trusted to decide what is appropriate for her to wear?

Compare this news from Bhopal to this news from Lahore,

Jeans, Body Hugging Dresses Banned in Lahore College fearing Terror Threats.

Related Posts:

Not Just a Pair of Jeans

No Jeans for a Indian Daughters in law.

The way a woman dresses…

Provocatively Dressed.

Love Aajkal is against Indian Culture, but Kicking is legal?

I am so confused!

First thing I notice in Love Aajkal is that even the heroine is ambitious! I like that. I clearly remember Bollywood once suggested that an ambitious woman left her child alone at home, ‘burning with fever’ to fulfill her selfish ambitions. She learnt a lesson – often after being slapped by her husband (I am not sure, but it is possible that it’s excusable under the law, unless your lawyer uses the right Act etc, though it seems Brinda Karat has challenged this). How does one prove that kicking is not an act of kindness when the old Bollywood heroine turns around and asks : ”Yeh thappar aapne mujhe pehele kyon naheen mara??” (Why didn’t you slap me earlier my Lord? ) Anybody watching movies of those times could get confused and think Indian wives are generally grateful for a timely slap (or a kick).  So any confusion is understandable.  Now are my maid’s mother in law and husband not cruel anymore? … was I breaking a law in supporting her? I am confused.

… but Dipika Padukone is ambitious. I admire her for that even if she is expressionless while being ambitious.

Then we have a heroine committing the sin of being drunk. Again I am confused, Kawariyas are provided liquor in shivirs but girls in Mangalore were beaten for drinking liquor, I get all confused by these modern definitions of my culture. Is drinking against our culture or not? Citizens in Ghaziabad (and Noida and Gurgaon) are advised, ‘kawariyon se na uljhen’ (‘Avoid getting into hassels with kawariyas’, in a local newspaper) but girls in Managalore are dragged by their hair and molested for allegedly drinking in a pub. Please explain.

Deepika Padukone in the meanwhile claims that she only pretended to be drunk, so that her boyfriend could “take advantage of her“. Reminds me of Kajol’s horror in a similar situation in Dilwale dulhania le jayenge (justified because  Shahrukh Khan was not her boyfriend till then) and SRK assuring her that he knew, “ek Hindustani ladki ki izzat kyaa hoti hai (Translated: He knew what honor means to an Indian girl). Saif and Deepika have no idea that in movies long ago a girl was required to rush blindly towards the nearest cliff because she had crossed her ‘maryada’ (even if it was without her consent).

So I liked Love Aajkal for showing some real life. And for showing women as sexual beings unlike this. I know of girls living happy lives with their husbands who took …err advantage of them before they filled their maang with sindoor. And what if things hadn’t worked out??!!! (Oh horror!) I am sure the disappointed guy would have eventually got over and the girl too, because unlike Rishi Kapoor in Love Aajkal, I believe, one must move on.

Life is too precious to be wasted because a relationship did not work. One’s First Love need not be one’s only love. This is something Bollywood understood ages ago… watch the video in the first comment.

What do ‘Modest’ women have that their ‘Immodest’ sisters don’t…

I read this article that teaches women how to dress modestly. The article recommends that women avoid wearing shirts that show anything below the collar bones, skirts and shorts that go higher than the knees, and tight fitting clothes.

The article says that women must not wear certain kinds of  clothes,  to prevent men (who may not be creeps or bad people) from being tempted to imagining what they look like beneath the clothes.

I am not convinced because I have read of many other men (who may not be creeps or bad people)  who will be attracted to the  sight  of a woman’s collar bones or ankles, or knees, or lips (with or without lipstick) or eyes lashes, or hair or the arc of her back. ETC.

If you read the comment section of “The way a woman dresses…” you will find capris or three fourths are also considered immodest by some men.  Jeans which the article says nothing against are considered suggestive by another commenter.

If you have seen Pakizah then you will know that even the sight of a woman’s feet is enough for some men to be  attracted to them.

Some other men think modesty is in the attitude and eyes, and not in the clothes.

So it does seem that modesty is a subjective term. It seems it is almost impossible for women to fit into everybody’s idea of modesty.

But more importantly how do women benefit from giving up free movement, comfortable clothing, the satisfaction of looking good, sunlight, fresh air, and a lot of personal freedom?

…In other words, what do modest women have that immodest women don’t?

They are told they have men’s respect.

Well, I am sure men’s respect is a very worthwhile thing. But seeing how millions of (immodest?) women are doing very well without this kind of ‘respect’, I really wonder if it’s time women stopped worrying about how men are imagining unprintable things about them, (because they find their clothing immodest) and started living their lives.

Thousands of women, (mothers, students, activists, nurses, athletes, journalists, engineers, construction workers, artists, actors, writers etc) are going about their daily lives without giving a thought to what every Tom, Dick and Harry is thinking when he sees them striding past.  They are all doing fine without fitting into every rikshaw-walla, coolie, clerk, politician, principal, army jawan and dhobi’s ideas of modesty.

I wonder who does a woman’s modesty empower… who do you think?

Related Posts:

1. What women ‘choose’ to wear…

2. Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work.

3. She does not ‘ask for it’.

4. Provocatively Dressed.

(who may not be creeps or bad people)

Provocatively Dressed

To Moral Brigade(s) and their Supporters,
We should know that frivolous terms like Provocative Dressing might make a sexual assaulter feel that the responsibility of preventing sexual assaults lies with the victim.

Violent men are helpless victims of provocation?
Saying women must not dress provocatively makes us sound like Taliban. (Now we wouldn’t want that?)
We also need to keep in mind that we are talking about adult citizens here, they have the right to vote, they can get a driving license, and they can even own property or start an independent business! And often do and very successfully too. (I understand that can make anybody painfully jealous, it does seem wrong that they should do so well despite the major hurdles their gender faces … but women these days are like that, give them a chance and they fly, reach the sky, and even the moon. Accept it.)

Your over enthusiasm and interest in her clothes might lead some to believe that you are looking at women more than you should be. (Most women consider such unwanted attentions very revolting; they might suspect your morals).
Your insistence on deciding the correct code of dressing here is against the law. (I am assuming most of you offenders and supporters have not been to school, so I am simplifying it for you.) Instead we need to ensure that men are guided very firmly about the acceptable code of their own conduct. They need to get it very clear that tight jeans and noodle straps are poor excuses for criminal acts against other equal (even if they are better qualified, they are only equal) citizens. We need to concentrate on providing a secure academic and emotional foundation to create a nation of women who do not hold themselves responsible for any and every atrocity committed against them. Your own mothers, daughters, sisters and wives also will benefit more from this (much more) than from being taught how to dress.
I know of thousands of women who have not benefited in anyway, when they were compelled to cover themselves from head to toe in traditional attire. Their families, specially their children have suffered because these mothers were often made too weak, by such controls, to stand up for them in all so many ways children need their mothers to….so it seems wearing traditional clothing does not automatically make you a better mother, sister, daughter, citizens, wife, woman etc.
Strong mothers and strong women make a strong nation.You think it is only about drinking in the Pub? The drinking in the Pub is just symbolic
(Just like PCC is). You understand symbols? Like bangles for weakness? Like Duryodhan and Duhshsan for … if only you had some education, it would have been simpler to explain. But let me try …When a nation overlooks an act of violence against it’s citizen only because they are women, they are not creating a very confident generation of women. Let me try and speak your language again, …these women are going to raise the future of this nation… Please let us stop treating them like they have no thinking capacity!

And this is a nation where women are anyway having difficulty even being born. We make it tougher for parents to have daughters, and for those daughters who are born to feel safe, let alone feel free.
Women (and men) need to be able to decide for themselves how they dress, what careers they choose, when and to whom, if at all, they marry or live with without marrying. Because we have hungry families, and unemployed men, and no drinking water, and houses which flood every monsoon.

Tomorrow you might find even a girl’s face, eyes, lips or feet provocative? How are you guys going to survive?

I think we need a stricter code of conduct for men like you here.You will benefit from gentlemanly behaviour and discipline. Women are now everywhere. And we will see them as bosses, better drivers, being able to afford better recreation … (I understand the surge of envy, but you really have to work harder, just being born a male is not really important any longer, at least in their circles…). Many of them come from families where success is more important than marriage and children are. (Yes I am aware that this is all too much to digest, it seems these women come from a different planet, well in a way they do.) Many are happily married with children, oh yes and their husbands are aware that they drink, and talk to men in their office and also outside but no, they don’t drag them by their hair for that … (You ask, ‘Why not?’. Let’s just say, self confidence does that to men. And women too. You won’t understand …)

The world has changed too much while you were worrying about which caste or religion or language or region was being victimised.
But it’s never too late. You just need to understand that they are your equal. No matter how much better they earn, what fancy cars they drive, how much more fun they seem to have, how much better they look … they are only your equals.

As for their clothes, for all you know there is probably a future scientist behind that Rakhi-Sawant-dress-alike.

Related Posts:

1. What women ‘choose’ to wear…

2. Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work.

3. What do ‘modest’ women have that their ‘immodest’ sisters don’t?

4. She does not ‘ask for it’.


She does NOT invite it.

This post is in response to Chandni’s post on how girls are judged by the way they dress.
I have seen most people believe that if a girl is dressed decently she will not be harassed, molested or raped. So a burqua/chador/abaya should be the safest? It isn’t. Read what happens when you treat girls as objects, not as humans with their own minds, feelings and lives.

Pressure to wear appropriate clothing is a different issue, what’s appropriate for office may look too stiff on a dance floor. But pressure to wear clothing that shows they respect tradition and culture of the place in all kinds of weather is only for women. Tradition and Culture are the easiest ways to control women, or even a whole population. We need to use common sense instead walking on the trodden path.

Indian men gave up traditional clothing and switched to western clothing, warm blazers, trousers and shoes and socks, women continue to wear the saree even in shivering winters and dripping monsoons. Tabu struggling with her saree in the snow, in Namesake sums up the inconvenience/impracticality of following outdated traditional/inappropriate clothing. Churidaar and kurta which came to India with the Mughals was fine for their weather (Central Asia), Indian saree made more sense for Indian summers. Today, the saree is totally accepted, in fact respected in India, but in Pakistan the same saree is considered revealing! It’s less about how much is showing, more about does it indicate that the woman is breaking the norm. It’s like if she smokes a cigarette (does something most women don’t) she is loose, but if she smokes a bidi? Well many village women do that. No problem.

The belief is so deep seated that girls are told to dress and behave in certain ways to avoid male attention, protection becomes imprisonment very fast. And quite unnecessarily. What about child abuse? Custodial rape? Rapes of dalits by upper castes? I repeat, if clothing protected women from male attention, then Burqua clad women will face no male attention. Right? Read this.

Quite on the contrary, if women dress the way they like and men are made to understand that they will face legal action etc for harassing them, the harassment will stop. There is no other way. It’s not clothing, it’s not how a woman dresses, it’s the way the men think. A decent guy will look away if a woman is dressed in a way that embarrasses him, he will not pass lewd remarks. A creep will pass comment on a woman of any age, dressed in any way. My mother only wears sarees, and when you see her from her back you cannot make out how old she is. Once she heard two young boys , laughing and arguing “Mine, heh heh heh !”, “No Mine!” “She was in her fifties then, and she turned to see the faces of these boys, they took out their tongue to show embarrassment when they realised how old she was. Before she could react, they cycled away giggling shamelessly. And she was neither young, nor wearing revealing/nontraditional clothing.

Quoting Irfan EngineerPower wielding elite exploit helpless victims to satisfy their lust without any respect for dress code of any woman. The argument that ghunghat protected women from sexual lust of power wielding men will logically lead us to the conclusion that victims of rape are themselves responsible for the crime and invited the sexual assault as they were not properly clad. How do you explain rapes in police custody and sexual harassment at workplace in that case? Can one imagine a dalit landless labourer sexually assaulting an upper caste woman from a land owning family in a village however she may be dressed? Not because dalit males respect the individuality of the fairer sex but they know that the consequence of such a misadventure. What matters is, who is vested with power and social sanctions and not how one is dressed.’

Remember some of the reactions to the New Year Eve Mumbai molestation case? Our elite media, repeated many, many times, ‘Girls were skimpily dressed’.

Brothers hear parents tell the girls to dress appropriately to avoid male attention, and they assume it’s the girls who are responsible for any crimes committed against them. Boys are innocent, girls dress provokingly, boys get provoked! They cannot help it. How logical is that?

A city that is safe for everyone else is safe for women also. Compare Mumbai and Delhi. Crime and Law and Order situation overall, and crimes against women go together. So if we don’t want crimes against women we need to ensure our cities are safe. Covering them in full sleeved kurtas and heavy dupattas will not make any difference.

We women, (specially mothers) can make so much difference.
If we just stop telling our daughters not to invite trouble by dressing daringly, do tell her to be careful, the way you’d tell your son to be careful.
Teach her how to handle emergencies. Just like you would teach a son, without frightening or blaming her. And NEVER say, she invited it. No girl invites crimes against herself.
If she tells you someone misbehaved with her, do NOT blame her! She will never have the courage to tell you again, even if she really needs your help.

Edited to add: Do we realise harassment and eve teasing has serious repercussions for girls? They are not allowed to go to school and colleges because parents are afraid they will be harassed. Read about it here.

Added on Oct 14, 2008 – When CM of Delhi thought girls should stay at home after dark, read what Quirky Indian wrote here.

 

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2. Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work.

3. What do ‘modest’ women have that their ‘immodest’ sisters don’t?

4. Provocatively Dressed.