Sunday, February 28, 2021
Home Opinions Sexual assault, immoral society, and the importance of self-defence

Sexual assault, immoral society, and the importance of self-defence

(The mass-molestation incident in Bangalore has once again sparked the conscience of men and women across India. While on some levels the argument has been about victim-shaming and male-bashing, the need of the hour is to rise up above such petty issues. This article was originally written by Sandhya Ramesh on her blog, in response to this incident in 2012, in which she chronicles her experiences with sexual predators, and society as a whole. Most importantly, she describes how women can get over the beasts in our towns and cities. The article at no point blames women for the atrocities on them, but makes the point that till the society and law and order systems do not improve, women will have to learn how to defend themselves.)

The first time I was touched, I was all of six years old. My then-best friend used to go back home in an auto rickshaw, and I, in a van. We used to play outside school while we waited with the other kids to go home.

One day, my friend told me that her auto driver wants to see me. I, thinking it was some sort of an adventure, accompanied her. He sat in the auto and made us sit on either side of him. Then, he kissed us – no jammed his tongue down our throats – in turn and asked us to go away. I was confused. I knew something felt wrong, but I couldn’t understand it.

I knew men liked touching women, I had seen it on TV. But those women had breasts and thankfully I still didn’t. My mouth stank of cigarettes. My friend offered me water from her water bottle and taught me how to clean my mouth the way she did every time he had his fun with her. I went home and told my mom about what had happened. From the very next day, my friend was coming home in the same van as me. I don’t really know what happened to that man.

The second time, I had breasts. And my uncle’s car driver knew it, because that’s what he was touching. I was wearing a full salwar kameez, complete with dupatta. It didn’t take him super human effort to brush aside the dupatta. This time, I knew exactly why it was wrong, he was fired within the next hour.

Then, when I used to travel an hour by train to college everyday, I’ve had men in the crowded station grab my ass, pull my arms, try to trip me by putting out their leg, fall on top of me with their lips somehow accidentally ending up on my mouth; men who bump into me in the general compartment of the train with such force that I end up falling into the lap of other men who were sitting, and once, a very muscular boy who was five years younger to me, grabbing me by the waist and hoisting me up in the air. I’m sure my tiny pummeling fists had no effect on him, but the bus conductor’s punch on his nose did.

My mom used to tell me to carry a safety pin in my hand to scratch any man that tried to touch me, because a girl always knows when she is being touched without her consent – even if it is on her arm.

I have countless number of female friends who have gone through very similar experiences. I once had a neighbor whose daughter, back when they lived in Delhi, was “kidnapped” by two construction workers and taken to their huts two blocks away so that a third could profess his love for her. That, at the end of the day, was harmless and did no damage. But I know of a girl who was raped repeatedly by her father’s boss’s son from the time she was ten. I’m not giving away prizes for guessing which city that was in. This girl came from a very conservative family and I do not believe she owns a pair of jeans to this day. I also know of one other girl who was so brutally raped 10 years ago while she was walking back home at 5.30 pm from her coaching classes by a bunch of drunk college men, she didn’t speak for a month and has been so scarred, that to this day, has never been in a relationship and intends to remain unmarried and adopt a daughter.

Majority of women, all over the country, have been victims of groping and fondling at one point or the other. I realize ‘majority’ is a strong word. But when I confided my stories to female friends for the first time, I got to hear more stories, and many that were more horrifying than mine. The point I want to make here is, men who rape don’t look at clothes or age or what time of the day it is. They don’t care much for sobriety either – theirs or the woman’s.

Today, I can deliver a fully powerful round house kick to the toughest of my friends, but not all women are capable of even building up the psychological strength to resist. Do you know why? It’s because women aren’t taught how to attack men who attempt to rape them; we are taught how to avoid getting raped by covering ourselves up.

The first time I was groped, I was wearing a pinafore with socks pulled up to my knees and I stood barely taller than the guy’s hips. The second time, the only part of me that wasn’t covered was my face – I had full sleeves on. The multiple other times men have hooted, whistled, grabbed and pulled what they could hold, I’ve worn a salwar, a saree, and mostly jeans. I’ve constantly been teased for being too fair by Indian standards, so I’ve always been conscious of putting my legs on display, so I almost never wore skirts or capri pants or shorts.

Indian society today has such confused idealisms and opinions about sex that it is becoming increasingly difficult for teenagers and uneducated citizens to understand just what and how much is acceptable. On the one hand, we outrage against rape, and on the other hand, we glorify different kinds of sexual acts in our music videos, words and imagery that leads young men to believe women enjoy being treated nastily. This is where the educated adults of the society step in and teach their children and spread awareness about what is right and wrong. Women dressing how they want drinking alcohol and dancing with men they like of their own volition is not something to be judged, but men harassing women who have no interest in them by singing and dancing and chasing them against their will is. There’s no two ways about it — it is blind and wrong to encourage men chasing after unwilling women in movies, it is foolish to tell women to cover up to be safe, and it is highly irresponsible to not teach daughters how to be safe and sons how women are not safe.

There are two issues that need to be addressed here. Firstly, rape is WRONG. As someone who understands the distinction between consensual sex and rape, it is our responsibility to stop rape if it occurs. It is also our duty to push for the government to understand that what women wear and which part of the sky the sun is at are not factors that govern a rapist’s mind. It is also important for individual women to accept that very fact, which brings me to my next point, what women should be taught if you really want to teach them to prevent getting themselves raped.

Women need to learn how to defend themselves, irrespective of what they are wearing. It is our responsibility, man or woman, to encourage women around us to learn some self defense and carry a pepper spray. Look for self-defense classes in your area. You can get a mace or pepper spray at Amazon or eBay.

I never carried that safety pin because I was afraid I might get in trouble for hurting someone. But I’m not seventeen anymore and I am not afraid. Public brawls in India are perfectly legal, if you go by what you see around you, and hence a woman hitting out at a man in self defense is NOT wrong. Techniques like the ones in this short video are very powerful and easy to learn:

There are isolated cases where the man comes back with more thickheaded trolls, but that is (as far as I know, please feel free to tell me if I am wrong) an exception, and it always gives you time to be better prepared.

I am writing solely for the women in cities who have the capability to read this off their computers or phone screens; and not for women in villages who run the risk of becoming an acid-attack victim if they defend themselves. I have not lived in a small village, and what I write does not apply to girls who’ve been working as laborers since they were fourteen, or women who are stalked by spurned lovers and ex boyfriends.

Educated Indian women are constantly asked to build themselves up to be dainty princesses who will one day be whisked away by their NRI prince. If women’s equality applies to working rights, it equally applies to the capability to protect oneself from getting raped, no matter how they are dressed. Women in cities have many self defense classes and products at their disposal, they just need to be searched for and bestowed attention upon.

And Delhi and Gurgaon are definitely cities – cities where men are still not afraid of raping. If rape was prevalent in cities only after 8 pm and only women who wore short skirts, went to bars and drank alcohol were victims, I’m sure women would have learned years ago and there would be virtually no rapes today.

Women need to help prepare themselves and men who rape need to be stopped. The point is not open for debate.

Preventing women from going out would be counterproductive, if one goes by the police’s argument. If rapes occur after 8 and you ask women to try not to be outside after 8, the few women who still are outside are at a higher risk of getting raped. The reasoning, while in good intention, defies all logic. The police could increase their own employment rate by increasing women’s security after 8 pm.

And to the Delhi and Gurgaon police who still refuse to see reason, I ask, “Aap ki maa behen nahi hai kya?”

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Related Articles

Trending now

Congress ‘remembers’ Kamala Nehru on her ‘birth anniversary’ which is actually her death anniversary: The legacy of gaffes continues

However, after many pointed out, Congress quietly deleted the tweet and posted another one with correct information that today was Kamala Nehru's death anniversary.

Naushad, who was caught spitting while cooking tandoori rotis in viral wedding video, to be booked under NSA

Earlier this month, a video of Naushad who appears to be spitting on the tandoori rotis before putting them inside the tandoor for cooking, while at a wedding function, had gone viral.

Delhi Police arrests 2 men who were plotting to assassinate Kashmiri activist Sushil Pandit against payment

Sukhvinder Singh and Lakhan said they were paid Rs 10 lakh each by one Prince to kill Kashmiri activist Sushil Pandit

Hindu Mahasabha asks Rahul Gandhi to change Congress’ name to ‘Godsevadi Congress’ after Godse follower joined party: Read why

Hindu Mahasabha has advised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to change the name of the Congress party to Godsevadi Congress.

As desperate Pakistan welcomes the Indo-Pak ceasefire with much fanfare, India takes it with a caution

The latest ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan comes nearly 17 years after such an agreement was first signed

Encryption vs Compliance: The new IT Act guidelines put messaging services like WhatsApp in a tight situation

To comply with the new IT Act guidelines, services like WhatsApp will have to break its famous end-to-end encryption

Recently Popular

Did Aamir Khan’s daughter Ira Khan elope with her Hindu servant? Here is the truth

The image that is being used to claim that Iran Khan has 'eloped with her Hindu servant' was originally shared by Nupur Shikare, her fitness trainer. The two were posing on the occasion of Diwali.

US President Joe Biden casually drops the N-word during Munich Security Conference, accused of racism on social media

The N-word is considered as one of the hateful words that were first uttered in the 17th century. Its origin can be traced back to the Spanish word 'negro', which is often used by white supremacists to deliberately offend the African-American community.

Father of Richa Bharti, the girl who had refused to distribute Quran to secure bail, shot dead in native Bihar village: Read details

The father of the daring Bihar girl Richa Bharti has been shot down by assailants in her native village of Nalanda district in Bihar.

“A contest between my ball and your ball”: Netizens in splits after comments of Harsha Bhogle go viral

Harsha Bhohgle said that a cricket contest should be between bat and ball, not between bat and bat or ball and ball

Spokesperson of Samajwadi Party resigns after workers abuse his wife for sharing anti-Akhilesh Facebook post: Details

Anil Yadav of Samajwadi Party has resigned from the party after his wife, Pankhuri Pathak, was abused by SP workers.

Father of 6, Mehtab Rana, abducts minor by shrouding her in Burqa, had abducted the girl twice in 2018, role of in-laws, family suspected

Kidnapping of a 17-year-old girl in Agra, where accused made her wear a 'burqa', has sent shockwaves and resulted in outrage
- Advertisement -

 

Connect with us

253,132FansLike
520,759FollowersFollow
23,800SubscribersSubscribe