"Don't wear that dress. All of your dresses should be at least below the knees."
"You are a girl. You can't drink."
"She was out after 12 in the night. You know those types of girls."
These are some common statements we hear people around us say today.
"Dear, be sure to not be alone after 5:00 p.m."
"Come home before it gets dark outside."
"Be careful and don't turn off your cell phone. Call if there is any sort of problem."
That's what our parents say to us when we leave home, and they can't rest easy until they see us return home safely.
"We did it because she was sending us signals."
"We did it because we could do it."
"We did it because that couple was behaving obscenely."
And the list never ends.
These are the statements of the so call men in our society who see women only as tools for quenching their never ending thirst of power, control and pleasure.
We are the second most unsafe country for women in the world. Our condition is even worse than Saudi Arabia where women can't even drive and they are stoned for being a victim to Rape. Because in a country where women who claims to have suffered marital rape is laughed at and where a woman is scared to name the juveniles who violated her, I don't see scope for a better future.
When the victim speaks, this is what she says ...
Every passing moment,
Is a reminder of the
Of my past...
Opens old wounds
That do not seem
To heal anytime soon.
How their stares accuse me
Of the crime whose victim
I am supposed to be...
Some shower sympathy,
Some deliver a sorry,
While some others,
Simply chose to judge me.
How none of their thoughts reach me...?
I feel numb from the pain,
Drowning in my own emptiness.
A hollow void devoid of any light.
Light that breeds strength.
Yes, I feel weak, fragile and broken.
They stripped of any
Self-esteem that I held close.
Those hungry stares,
Ate any confidence I wore.
Making me fall to begging and pleading,
To request what was mine from birth;
My right to self-respect.
But when all pleas
Fell to deaf ears,
I was left to live
A life worse than death;
Tainted and smeared with dirt.
Still, walking down the path,
Continuing the journey,
Of breath and heartbeat,
Pretending to be strong,
Avoiding those whispers,
Ignoring the ache,
My unheard tale
Of hurt and humiliation,
Would receive the glory of this
These are lyrics of the song that countless rape victims sing in their mind. Afraid to express the hell they've been through and ashamed of the vile act they have been through, they lead a life with their heads bent low. And I refuse to apologise to society such as ours in which this is prevalent. I refuse to apologise for saying NO to men. I act upon my freedom to consent.
And a NO means a NO.
Why should it matter how I dress? Why should it matter if I drink when I am of legal age?
Why is a boy called stud when among 6 girls and a girl called a slut when amongst 6 guys?
Why should we be the ones to apologise to anyone for being, expressing, wearing, walking, talking or being who we are?
I refuse to be a part of this hypocrisy that our nation follows.
Instead of focusing so much of our energy on teaching girls how to dress to keep themselves safe, why not tell the boys not to misbehave.
Let's promise to uphold each other's rights whenever we can, whenever we need because we deserve to be some place safer. But this is our home, and so, let's make it better. For you, for me and for every Indian woman out there who lives in the fear of being the next victim.
That's my promise. Are you with me?