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Different Lives, Similar Stories

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by arch1209, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. outofthebox

    outofthebox Platinum IL'ite

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    Archie,

    A very exhausting topic indeed. These are very heavy topics, which howmuchever you try to discuss, the solutions still seem very vague.

    Candidly, I never thought that putting up my incidents anonymously could also be called as courage. I happened to get a private message from one other elite member in this forum who also appreciated that I have been able to come out with my incidents. I still feel I have a long way to go to discuss in a better way. I need to learn how to share my experiences with the younger generation in a fruitful manner, without scaring them away.

    As uma mentioned, these were exactly my thoughts when one of the incidents happened - that I am not pure !!! Its so true that we tend to blame ourselves, when in reality we were not at fault at all. It will take a long time for the victim to come into terms, but if she/he has the right support around, it can make things a little lighter (but not that it will take away the pain completely). And like you said in one of the responses, even I consider myself 'lucky' to have survived most of the incidents, as I was also in helpless situations where there was no one around to whom I could reach out to.

    For now, I want to bring the change from home, which is the least I can do. Later, when I get an opportunity, even if it is in smaller groups, I hope to do whatever bit that I can to bring about awareness in whatever possible way, because not everyone may have their antennas up all the time and some need to be genuinely educated on these grounds.
     
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  2. smritisinha

    smritisinha Platinum IL'ite

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    Wow.. It took me half an hour to read and understand each post but I am glad I did it.

    Wonderfully put Archana.

    Yes, I agree with you that it is not the dress or the place or the looks or the way of walking/talking of a woman / a girl that makes them victims of these heinous crimes.

    How many cases have we heard where little girls were raped inside their homes, in temples, after being picked up from schools, etc.

    Those saying that women get raped because they are at the wrong place at a wrong time. I would like to say that these girls who were raped, were they wrong to be inside their home / going to a school or temple?

    Do we expect to go back to that age where girls were married off upon attaining puberty and they always had someone accompanying them wherever they went? No education, no jobs, no freedom because they were "girls" who could be molested and resultantly, the "noses" of their dignified families be cut??

    Like OTB says, we all have come across instances in our lives where we have felt uncomfortable by a touch, gaze or someone following us. Is anyone exempt from this?

    When I was young, me and my friend were followed one day after a music class, and since we were in a small town, that guy may have done his homework about our regular way of going home and our background. He stopped us middle of a road and asked us what is the address of Mr. X. (Mr. X was my father) I told him he was my father and stayed 2 lanes down the road. He engaged us in small talk and innocently, we blabbered about when we come to class, how many days a week and what time we leave, do we ever get late, etc. It was a age where certain changes were beginning to take place in our bodies and he groped us on those parts saying how we can "play". We got uncomfortable and went away. I was sensible enough to tell mom what had happened and how a friend of dads met us on the way and showed us how to "play". She got very upset. Dad went looking for that guy, but couldn't. We changed our class timings and then, moms used to drop us and pick us.

    We can say they took safety measures that the society tells us we should take. But if on that day, our fates had something else in store for us, the society would have blamed us right? Or our parents? For sending girls to learn music? "Why did they send their daughters to evening classes knowing well that men are men?" Is it not what we would hear??

    You talk about victim self blaming right? My mom still blames herself for sending me out alone. Does she need to?? Was she not a good mother? She still has this on her conscience. Is it fair?

    I am still afraid of going home after dark. Which I have to, everyday. Because my office offers no discounts for being a female. I am still afraid of calling a plumber / a repairman at home when I am alone. I tend to call up anyone while they are at home plumbing / repairing. I keep doors open, all lights on and talk loudly on phone from the gallery that Mr. so and so has come to repair the machine, etc.

    Why this fear? It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel vulnerable. Somehow helpless.

    Is this the legacy that we leave for our daughters. To be afraid / cautious / uncomfortable. To experience what we have experienced. Those etched in our minds forever. Do we want them to think "why is being a girl such a curse sometimes"

    I dont have any answer but I find myself thinking about this everytime such a case comes on newschannels and they find a way to blame the victim somehow. Why was she not cautious enough to not climb on a bus without any other passengers? Why did she have to go to such a locality where no lady goes? Why was she wearing a sleeveless top or a skirt? Why does she have to go to pubs?

    I read this somewhere: That instead of asking the women to stay at home after dark, why dont we ask the men to stay at home. After all, they are the ones who keep on saying "she was asking for it because she was wearing a low neck dress, or a skirt, because she was in a wrong place". It is men who cannot control themselves. It is they who show the lack of self-control on looking at a woman.
     
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  3. racr

    racr Platinum IL'ite

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    I read this somewhere: That instead of asking the women to stay at home after dark, why dont we ask the men to stay at home. After all, they are the ones who keep on saying "she was asking for it because she was wearing a low neck dress, or a skirt, because she was in a wrong place". It is men who cannot control themselves. It is they who show the lack of self-control on looking at a woman.

    Superlike!!
     
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  4. arch1209

    arch1209 Platinum IL'ite

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    Viji and PD - thanks for stopping by and reading the post and your feedbacks.

    Uma, OTB, and Smriti - words cannot express what I want to say

    I will come back with a detailed reply, later today. Today is first day back to school - so have to prepare myself for macroeconomics (throwing up sound). Sending warm and positive thoughts to you guys, your courage is inspiring, I am optimistic about the future

    But before I go I just wanted to share this initiative called Rahat - a collaboration between Women and Child Development and Majlis Legal Centre, Mumbai, to provide Socio-Legal Support to Victims of Sexual Assault. One of the initiatives taken by RAHAT was the drafting of guidelines for Police while recording and investigating cases of Sexual Assault. A circular with these guidelines has been issued by the Police Commissioner of Mumbai to all police stations in Mumbai. Below is the link.

    Exemplary guidelines for the Police regarding sexual assault | Kafila

    I think it is a good initiative - maybe replicated in other cities as well, however, I do think there should be women/ men cops specifically trained in SART/ SAFE.

    More later.
     
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  5. racr

    racr Platinum IL'ite

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    Arch,All the best for the semesters ahead!Everything will be fine and in place soon..very soon.God bless!

    Thanks for the link.I was also researching on whether India has something on these lines..nothing really.There are talks of committees on CA,special bodies to be set up,but nothing concrete. Would like to discuss this later,maybe offline.
     
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  6. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear Arch,

    I see you are doing what you said you do..crib and complain! But Arch, I am glad that you do it for it needs to be done!

    Enough of taking all the crap, women have gone through a lot. Like you mention, women before us have fought bitterly with their sweat and blood so you and I could enjoy a certain amount of liberties like we do... Our women have fought shoulder to shoulder with the menfolk to achieve freedom for our country. That being so, it would be shameful to sit back and let everyone walk over the women folk.

    Actually, I lack the energy and vocabulary to voice the protest like you do. You are coming out openly with the oppressions women go through. The basic attitude and mentality of both men and women should change from the grass root levels, especially in our country.

    Your OP left me drained. Subsequent posts by Ootb and Uma and some others made me go stiff with frustration and anger. These are not some rare incidents. Most of us are aware of such incidents either happening to us or someone we know. But what use is it if we sit in the shelters of our homes and not protest?

    I followed the links you have given here and the last one sounded a bit promising. Hope rules and laws change in our country and more importantly, educating children on equality of genders becomes a must in our schools. Something is simply askew in our society if no woman can feel secure in her own home, town and streets.

    I would like to add that groping, pinching and harassing women is no new culture manifestation in our country caused by MTV and internet access. It has always existed and even in my times and I am a grandmother today. My parents arranged private auto-riksha for us ( sis and me) to got to school and then college so we can travel safely and avoid the busses and busy roads where we were subjected to such violating acts. Even I carried safety pins or used my sharp elbow or heel to cause pain in return! My parents could ill afford the extra expense of such private transport. But parents go to any length to protect their daughters. Then, why not our country?

    Well, I too join racr in her optimism. Things Must and Will change. With girls like you around, it just has to change.:thumbsup

    L, Kamla
     
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  7. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Arch,

    All the best of luck with your work and studies! You deserve success both in your private sphere and in your aspirations for the public sphere!

    L, Kamla
     
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  8. arch1209

    arch1209 Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Uma321, Smriti and OTB

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Isn't it strange that we have never met and maybe there is probably nothing common in us, however, it illustrates that women have almost similar experiences while they grow up. I think it takes great courage to talk about abuse or assault, especially if it is of sexual nature, because one is led to think that it has in some way left us as Uma says "impure"....

    I am sure that Uma or OTB or Smriti I are not the first people to have felt this. There are many though, who don't have the language to express and maybe these reveals will in some way console them - at least that is my hope.

    I have always thought why or where the concept of impurity arises from? When I was doing my Second Year B. A in India one of the books we had to read for our literature class was called The Inner Courtyard - Stories by Indian women. I think everyone should read this book, it is a collection of fiction stories by Indian women such as Mahashweta Devi, Ismat Chugtai, Lalitambika Antherjenam and others. If there is one book that you can gift to a young adult girl I would say this is that book - Everyone should read it.

    All of the short stories depict how historically women and their bodies are viewed as sacred and something that needs to be protected and thus when the body is abused - the holder of that body becomes impure. A woman's body is in a way a sacred thing that needs to be guarded and protected because it beholds the honor of her family, her community and also everything else. Isn't that so telling...

    As children, or younger survivors of abuse might not understand this concept - gradually as they grow up and understand it - living with it becomes difficult. Because you feel as if you are this impure person, who has this bad secret that they cannot tell anybody because of many reasons - people might know that you have become impure, people would wonder why you couldn't protect yourself or people would think that maybe you did something to invite this trouble.

    I always think that in India we live in this two extremely contrasting cultures - on one hand we have this patriarchal world view that women ought to be protected, given special seats in the train, reservation in politics and education and on the other hand when we see women in public we question them and their authority. I think the whole aspect of protecting women comes from the fact that we view them as weaklings that need protection and not as human beings that deserve dignity. Thus having reservation in education for women, might give women more opportunities but if it stems out of an idea that women are weak and need the extra prod - it is dangerous. We have to rid ourselves of these basic ideas, if we cannot do it then no change can be possible. We would only be doing lip service.

    Uma/ Smriti and OTB nothing I say will make you feel better or make the bad memories go away but it is the spirit of human resilience that despite such awful things we continue to live and our lives are not dominated by these events anymore. Isn't that a big victory. I sometimes look at it this way - despite all the dangers women still go to work and in many cases they are the financial bread-winners that means in a way women are saying that we are not going to be scared. Irrespective of how bad things in our environment are we continue to struggle...

    In our own ways we try to make things better for people around us in little ways that we don't even understand. I think at least in our own immediate circles, we will not indulge in victim blaming - the next time a friend tells us that someone tried to pinch her butt, we will not ask her what she was wearing or where she was. We would probably ask her, "Do you want to break his face!" (Well, not literally....)

    Reminds me of an interesting incident that happened a few weeks ago. I was in a train and there was a young Asian girl sitting opposite to me. The train is sparsely crowded, next to me there is an older lady, while next to young Asian lady there is a little empty space. A guy gets in and despite there being other empty spaces squeezes himself next to the young Asian girl.

    The girl looks uncomfortable and tries to push away, this only makes the guy more confident and he tries squeeze all the more next to her. I turn to the old lady next to me and we both stare at each other and roll our eyes, because when the guy got in there were more empty spaces in the train. Now the train is full though, in the next stop the person sitting next to the old lady gets off. She immidiately moves, I signal the Asian girl with my eyes to move into the tiny space vacated next to me.

    Sometimes it is the smaller battles of life that result in victories.
     
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  9. arch1209

    arch1209 Platinum IL'ite

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    Thank you sweetie! The semester seems to have begun on a peaceful note so far, I have survived two classes of introduction to business and macroeconomics without any major issues - I hope I survive them without hindering my mental health.

    You know I just realized that NYPD has a special wing for sexual offenses and domestic violence. All of the cops in that wing undergo periodic gender sensitization training. Not to say that it does not have its faults but it does help big time. I think it is the need of the hour in India. Have a multidisciplinary task force - cops, public prosecutors and hospital staff trained just to deal with sexual offenses. Discussion - anytime, anywhere
     
  10. arch1209

    arch1209 Platinum IL'ite

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    Thank you Kamla - despite all the complaining I do, I really promise I do have a pleasant disposition. It might be hard to believe but I can be nice and funny too at times :) I am telling myself that just two more semesters - this is the last run, hopefully for sometime.

    All the stories of sharp elbows, pepper sprays, private autos and heels - sound similar and at times even timeless no? Because I have younger cousins who are in their teens now and they rely on all the above safety measures as well. But I would like to think that the day is not too far when as women we will be able to to work or do our thing, without worrying about time, clothing, or pepper sprays. I think like women before us fought for women's right to vote - maybe this could be our gift to the next generation. If nothing else at least a time when victim blaming becomes extinct.
     
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