Once upon a time Indian women were kept secure in joint families, till one day it was decided that women could work and augment the family income, provided they dressed traditionally, in accordance with the state they lived in, and came home straight from work.
Education and earning power were reluctantly conferred on women, so they could make both ends meet if, say, husband was maimed, dead or elopes with another woman.
But this went to their head! Soon women were gathering day – and sometimes night – to just say hello to each other.
The moral police had not a minute to themselves; canoodling couples had to be crowbarred out of nooks and crannies. Women needed to be herded, stalked and acid-attacked to constantly remind them of how hazardous it was to be out and about.
To this end, molesters and gropers have dedicated their lives, not to mention both of their hands, to the cause of personally teaching women a lesson: walk on the streets, hang out in public spaces, drink in pubs, pass through dark stretches without lamps, wear what you want – but at your own risk.
In case women in one city think sexual violence the problem of another city, cities quickly set them right.
Keeping women unsafe is a fulltime job, any Indian city knows that.
But with a little bit of help from the local police, yawning politicians and multiplying male mobs, rape stats are evenly maintained across the country.
The former says, ‘but no FIR filed’, and the latter is too hung over to speak after a night of such male bonding. Teaching women a lesson is a tiring activity. And really they would retire from this altogether if it wasn’t for the clothes women choose to wear, tch-tch. When men can’t keep their hands to themselves it is always the woman’s fault.
What happened in Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve could’ve happened anywhere, but what happens elsewhere in India had seldom happened in Bengaluru before – such blatant disregard for the safety of its women.
Also Read: CCTV Video Shows Bengaluru Woman Groped on New Year Eve, Seven Detained
Very few cities in India are considered female-friendly in the first place. With the exception of Mumbai and Puducherry, no other place is a preferred destination for solo women who like to stay out late. Only men have the right to be nocturnal hereabouts.
In Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve reportedly 1,500 policemen patrolled the MG Road-Brigade Road area, the main social and commercial artery of the city.
But a band of merry men, who leered at and got handsy with the opposite sex, obviously knew police blindness was a sure thing.
Home Minister G Parameshwara’s sociological analysis – “They (the victims) tried to copy the Westerner, not only in their mind-set but even in their dressing.
So some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kind of things do happen” – puts the blame squarely and ungrammatically on women.
Once a woman feels unsafe, she feels unsafe forever. She is never going to regain that trust in the world she lives in. For the revellers it was just another night out with the boys, for the victims it was the city as it really is.
(The author is a Bengaluru-based writer)