Saturday, 11 March, 2006

Do we need Women's day?

This is the question that people ask if woman's day be celebrated. Some show solidarity and some comment about giving undue priveleges to women. Some feel it only encourages sex discrimination. I myself ain’t any feminist but I still feel that the situation has not changed much in India in 21st century. When I came across with blank noise project,which has taken the cudgel to create awareness about exploitation of women, it gave me a grim reminder of problems encountered in my life as a woman.

Harassment of women happens everywhere in villages, towns, cities, metros and not to leave our capital state. These rumblings are related to the problems I faced coz of gender not that I am ashamed of being a woman. When I was 12 year old, it was for the first time, I realized to my horror about molestation. I had developed camaraderie with an old man who was on a short visit to his daughter. I was looking for help for an elocution contest and he being a retired professor, came to my rescue. He introduced me to the concept of pen friends. I used to write regularly to him for a year. When he came for another visit to his daughter, he came down to my place. When he bade me goodbye, I was surprised about the kiss on my lips instead of cheek. I did not protest, as I never quite understood the situation. My parents were only in the next room. I just figured out that something was not right. When I related the incident to my mom, she was quite distraught and then she patiently explained me about a male touch which is bad and I was quite confused about how can a touch be bad. Anyway i learned my first lesson in quite the hard way, that a woman should not easily trust men, age no bar,education no bar.

Next time I realized about my gender was when I was preparing for IIT. My teacher who used to teach me at school did not quite like the idea of a girl bunking her classes and preparing for IIT. My tuition mates for the IIT classes were all boys and the treatment meted out was like for a downtrodden class. I had to prove myself every time painfully that a girl is not as bad as you think. She has some goddamn brain. While in my final year in engineering college, I found how some boys did not quite like women getting placed before them. They have a theory that when a girl honed with BTech degree is going to get a good catch (husband), what is the point in wasting a precious seat of the professional college. They are infact ruining the life of some guy who could have got that job and support his family and future wife.

There was another incident,during my graduation which I still remember vividly. I was on my way to my granny’s place and so I boarded a train for Mahe. There is no separate ladies compartment in Kerala and I was pathetically alone. While climbing overboard along with a huge crowd, I felt someone grabbing my stomach from behind. I got so agitated and scared that I literally scratched some parallel lines on that hand with my sharp nails. Throughout the journey of two hours, I was painfully aware that someone in that train would avenge for the terrible pain. I was luckily spared but the moral of the story is that definitely long nails come handy for girls. I still feel very content on teaching that pervert a good lesson.

While I was working alone in Delhi, I remember how my parents used to live on the edge. On one edition of Times of India, when Delhi was declared unsafe for women,my dad hit the ceiling. It was so difficult convincing my dad that I want to chase my dream and I will be safe.While I used to return from north campus to south campus on bus, it was scary when there were no women and some men curiously watching you. I used to keep my finger on the mobile or in some situation act as if talking to someone on mobile. Huh! On top of it, you have to prove repeatedly that you are not “that type of girl”. Don’t ask me the definition of “that type of girl.”

Bombay is comparatively better than Delhi in that respect. Buses in Mumbai are much safer than Delhi’s yellow line or blue line. Thankfully, there is ladies compartment which definitely makes life easier. Talk about getting accomodation for single woman in mumbai, it is like looking for needle in hay stack. The building society will infact ask you to prove virginity and grill thorougly on your personal details .The fact still holds true that life for a single woman is tough. She needs a father, brother, boyfriend or boys to take care of her otherwise all her energy is chanelled on defending her everywhere and everytime.

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