When Nirbhaya lay there in a hospital in Singapore, struggling to survive, I was praying. Not for Nirbhaya, I knew she had plenty of people doing that for her. I did it for us, the women. I prayed that none of us ever have to go through what Nirbhaya did. I cringe when I see someone bleed, and there she was with multiple pipes pushed down her throat, lying on a hospital bed in an image that was circulated in the media. I didn’t know her name, I knew her as Nirbhaya (The one who doesn’t fear anybody/anyone).
When the incident occurred, I was hopeful that after today, no man would do what they did to her with any woman. This would have been the last time a man would look at a woman with lust when she’s alone on the streets and for once, would remember what happened on that fateful night and help her instead. I strongly believed that Nirbhaya’s case would serve as an example and reach the ears of men who have, in some way, contributed to this.
I prayed really hard.
And then it happened. Nirbhaya died. And with her death, my hope for a better tomorrow grew stronger. I saw so many women get on the streets and protest. So many men made promises to their sisters and their female friends. For a brief moment amidst the sadness, I was hopeful and happy about what the future holds for us, women.
And then it began, a week later, I saw a headline that had the word rape in it. A few weeks later, I read the word 4-year-old in it. It became worse, there were new things being added to headlines that didn’t allow me to swallow my morning cup of tea. I saw tabloids focus on important news that wasn’t stale anymore. I saw Nirbhaya making it to the page 4 of the same newspaper which she was once on the front page of. I saw people forgetting her. Like her smile, everybody wiped her struggle off their minds in an instant.
They had better news to thrive on now. A new scam, a new year of controversies, a new political agenda had risen. Who cares about a girl who died, who maybe, just maybe, in her unconscious state of mind, must have hoped no other girl will and should ever go through this after her.
It’s been 4 years, in which I’ve made almost 4-5 trips to around the country, read 1000s of headlines that talk about everything in Delhi except strong implementation of any law/measure that directly safeguards a woman. But all I experienced was the same sense of fear I had 4 years ago.
My parents became more paranoid. Nobody was telling their sons about Nirbhaya anymore. Everybody told their daughters about her. They asked daughters to leave on time, and reach home early. Our plans were “approved” only if we had someone with us who would drop us home safely. Multiple app companies asked women to download safety apps and learn self-defence (Not complaining here, should’ve done this long time ago). But nothing really changed in these four years.
It kept getting worse. And I don’t think it’s the Government’s fault in particular. I can’t blame the Government for failing to change the mind and souls of millions of men out there who wait behind bushes, inside cars, driving trucks and tempos, dressed in a sleek suit for his next hunt. I hate the fact that people got used to reading rape in headlines. And why must you have the audacity to tell me I shouldn’t report one? I want to remind everybody that we’re not okay. We’re not happy. We’re not safe. My women suffered silently, my women continue to suffer silently.
I still get groped, I still get stared at (fun fact: I was dressed up in a Kurta when he stared at me), men still look at women and pull their dicks out to masturbate. What’s the worst part? We move on. This has become as common as you finding someone urinating over a wall. And dare you blame us for being ignorant and not “raising our voice”. Because we do, oh we always do. What happens when we do it? Well, the answer to this can be seen by all of us right now, at this moment because I’m busy writing an article about it.
And that’s exactly what I did 4 years ago. I wrote about it. I blogged about it. And look what I found –
“Every time the news of a woman getting raped is announced, every Indian in this country is raped! Raped for not teaching your son how to respect women, for not sharing your bad experiences with your brother, for not telling your father how difficult it is to live the role of a woman every day, because if you would have done any of these, maybe we would have had one less rapist on the street. “
“It really doesn’t matter when the world is ending, the fact being a woman’s world, in some corner of the earth, ends the day she is raped!”
And look at me today. I am still helpless, still complaining, still being harassed by men. And yet I don’t know what can be done or when will a day arise where I finally wake up to read a newspaper that tells me no woman, no man, no child got raped.
It kills me to see Feminism as a campaign and a personal initiative by individuals to have failed so miserably in the eyes of men (especially on the internet) who believe it’s funny to call it ‘Feminazi’ because all we’re doing is whining and blaming your kind. No, we aren’t. Your ignorance disgusts me.
Stop hiding behind your country’s progress and call it ‘Developing India’. Ask your sisters and your mothers and your female friends if their world has developed any bit in the last 4 years. Because someone, somewhere, is being taught to cover up and stay at home because no man is being taught to respect women.