Is rape the only known safety issue for women?
What is violation for me? I think violation of one’s space or one’s body is a very personal issue…what’s violation for me could be fine for someone else and what is violation for someone else could be fine for another and so on…
However, do we respect that? Do we recognise that? legally we don’t have a recourse for harassment like stares, glares, whistling, brushing etc. All this is loosely termed as ‘eve teasing’ and brushed under the carpet. What really happens to someone who ‘eve teases’ me? Simple – Nothing!
But what happens to me when I’m ‘eve teased’? I feel consumed, I feel dirty, I feel a little scared…perhaps sometimes – I basically feel violated! I feel like someone has corroded my personal space and I stood there not able to do much and I don’t have much of a recourse either!
All through the several years of thinking about this issue I always felt that unless its serious for the world my issue of violation will never be taken up. During a Durga workshop a participant only made me feel more strongly about this feeling when she told us how she was followed from her college to the bus stop one day by just another ‘creepy’ guy and he just stood all the while near her – taunting her, coming close, then moving away, then coming close again and then moving away. He didn’t say a word, he didn’t touch her and she stood there feeling so violated all the time. Her gut told her that he was up to mischief but she was not sure what to do. She saw a police constable standing across the road and quickly went up to him and told him how she felt. He just brushed it in no time and told her he will help if that boy had touched her…in his own words ‘rape yenu maadilla alva madam!’ (he didn’t rape you right madam!).
This is absolutely shocking. This happened a few weeks ago…when the entire nation burned after a Nirbhaya, after a Vibgyor, after the cases in Mumbai and Delhi, after an Uber and one more, after the repeated cases coming up in every city against women, against children, against even babies! Do we as a nation, as an individual or as an authority stir and take the trouble to even think of helping only if it were a rape?
Can rape be the only form of violence and violation against women and girls in this world?
So, we know that there is no legal recourse, we also know that there is not much support from our protectors. I strongly feel that the power to decide whats good for me and what is unacceptable is only with me! If I can’t make a person with so-called ‘authority’ to come to my help – I can help myself! Also, when I set my mind to it, I can help anyone else too!
The words of a 10-year old Durga still echoes in my ears…when that uncle touched me while he helped me cross the road ‘felt like a 100 buses went all over my body’ – Now that’s what I call violation!
By Priya Varadarajan