Saturday , December 3 2022

The Burden..

Published Date: October 14, 2013

“Hey? Are you alright? Can I help you? Do you need something? Please answer…..what happened?” and she does not respond. She is trembling like a scared bird who just outran a hawk. I keep standing clueless. Its 2.47 in the afternoon and there are people around, walking carefree of this girl who is sitting on the sidewalk. She looks to me a smart young dynamic girl, dressed in office clothes. Why would she choose to hold herself and sit like that? I look around; there could have been no accident that she was in as I see no car or bike around. She refuses to talk still, she refuses to move. She just sits in shock and I keep standing there. I sit alongside. “Do you need some water”, I ask her while offering some to her. She looks at me, and hugs me and starts crying like a little baby. I am still clueless but I try and think what must have happened, maybe somebody ran away with her purse. Then my sight falls on her mobile, the screen is broken. Could this be the reason? No! I say to myself.

What crossed your mind while you read the above? I would leave the answer to you and not go into that. This incident took place a couple of days back. After she had calmed down she told me what had happened. She was walking back from work when a young boy came running snatched her mobile and ran, she started running after her and found him standing near a car, as soon as she got there, he pushed her in the back seat and locked the door. The car did not move. He looked at her and seemed confused. There was another boy in the car who screamed, “you idiot! This is the wrong girl.” And he started the car. “We won’t let you go, give us your earrings and all your money.” The car was still moving. As soon as she gave her belongings to them, they stopped the car, threw her out and then threw the mobile at her. Before she could react, they had fled. And since then she was sitting there at the side walk. Numb!

I did not know this girl. What keeps bringing her memory back to me is the way she sat there trembling and people just kept passing her. The gravity of the situation is what scares me. I do not keep a record of the statistics of the past. I am confused. What is the entity of a girl in this society? I am forced to think because I am one too. Where should I find security?

Shameless crowds start protesting for a gang rape in their respective cities. Were these crowds comprised of the same people who ignored that girl sitting on the sidewalk? Were these crowds not inclusive of the people of that village who became tongue bitten when a girl was killed in their own village for marrying the one she loved? Were these crowds free of people who had been witnesses to girls being abused and molested in their own families?

That’s not even the important question. The problem is I do not know who to blame or whom to ask for answers. From the very beginning, this taboo called “izzat” is thrown at you. Is it my fault that I am born a girl and in a society which has forgotten the culture of respect?

Fine, I was asked to return home before it gets dark; I was asked not to travel alone; I was told not to wear jewellery when I go out, and I was asked not to dress too nice and tight. But why? So that some hooligans do not bother me? If this is your idea of protection and sensible security then how should you answer and justify what happened with that girl on the sidewalk?

Why is it imprisonment in the name of sensible security that becomes the destiny of every girl sooner or later? I am sure after what happened to her, her parents would not allow her to go out alone. It is not their fault. They care for her. It is not her fault, she was the victim. But, why is it made such a big deal?

I will not challenge the difference, but, would care for a trial by asking, that how is a boy getting beaten up by some gundas different from a girl being whistled at or commented at by some loafers? Is it fair to burden a girl with so much without any reason? Instead of the blame going to the wrongdoer, it is the girl who has to face restrictions and skewed eyes.

What kind of a society is this that we live in? Is it correct and fair to make the burden of so called “izzat” so unbearable that one ceases to live the life of their choice?

Empowering the social security and patrolling officers is not the answer to this problem and it never will be. The effort has to come from both sides. The society which makes a girl feel embarrassed because she was teased is at fault. We form the society. We are at fault.

I accept there is a difference and it always will be, but is it not time to throw away tags like “the weaker sex”/ “the fairer sex”/  “the ghar ki izzat”, etc. Time has come to decide what really is a bigger deal, teasing or being teased?