So all’s well that ends well, or so they say. I think not!
The matter in question of course is the recent scandal of a top Malayali actress being groped by a man in high power. We all saw the visuals, heard various debates, made our own judgements and some of us even voiced our thoughts on mainstream news channels, to find out moments later that the complainant has withdrawn her case. How did this come about?
Any sensible person would understand that this is a natural outcome expected out of something that turned from being a violation of a woman’s personal space to a political thamasha. I mean, c’mon, who in their right mind would want to take on our current political system. One must be stupid, since we’ve seen enough examples of how that works out!
We can all agree that our system is flawed, but I had no idea to what extent until this spectacle unfolded on my television set.
From a woman who voiced her displeasure of being touched unnecessarily at a public function, to the media turning it into a whirlwind scandal with non stop visuals of the incident in slow motion, with comments and statements of anyone and everyone who was available. At one point, we saw the entire incident shifting into a conspiracy theory with the usual mudslinging party politics leading to violent public protests and even effigies of both parties being burnt and pictures shredded. Every household was glued on to their TV, only to find out with dismay that the complaint was withdrawn with no external pressure. Really? After all that?
As a woman, my problem is not with how the incident shaped up or what happened, not even that two popular figures were involved. After all this, the larger issue has only become more poignant — a woman who is wronged and raises her voice against it, will not be given justice. Furthermore, she will be blamed, insulted, degraded and disrespected in every possible way to break her down. Such a load of crap.
In the last two days, as a woman, what I have come to realize is quite simple. For all the progress that our nation has made since independence, for all the laws written down to protect the modesty of women, for all the leaders who talk about how women empowerment is of utmost importance, for all the “vanitha commissions” and women’s liberation movements, a woman shall always remain, just a woman. Weaker than men, owned by men, live in the shadow of men. Nothing more than a daughter, wife or a mother, to be protected and provided for, with no voice of her own, no opportunity to grow or change. A result of centuries of cultural conditioning.
The very reason why any woman who defies that very cultural conditioning, who demands the right to make her own choices, voices her opinions, controls her own body and determines her own destiny will always be called “a bad girl” only because she doesn’t conform to the wishes and likings of her male counterparts.
So now what, you might ask? Well, nothing really. Everything shall continue as it was. Women of all ages will still be victimized sexually, emotionally, physically and there isn’t a damn thing our system can do to change that. So girls, get ready to be groped, slapped, pinched, abused, molested and raped because that apparently is our destiny. In the light of recent events, it is only going to increase, as even fools must have realized by now that nothing can be done. It’s a futile effort for women to want equality, to be treated with respect and not merely as sexual beings.
Unfortunately, with nobody else to protect us, we have to take matters into our own hands. For those, who do want to break free and be branded a bitch for life, I say your only way out is instant response. If you are being sexually harassed in any way, especially in public areas in broad daylight, react. Nothing is more effective than that. Malayalis are scared of confrontation, of being singled out in a crowd. So, gather attention to the situation and do the needful. It could be a stare, shove, push, slap or just a verbal reaction. And if all that is too much to ask out of a demure, well behaved Malayali girl, there is a protective device that women all over india have been carrying to protect their modesty — a safety pin. A tiny, sharp pin keeping us safe from the daily harassers. Use it!