25 Saturday
February 2017
Chup Nahin Rehna

There’s’ an Elizabethan era saying I read as a child, “Little girls should be seen, not heard”. And another that said “Silence is golden” Over the years I have understood, that keeping quiet in face of adversity, makes you a part of the problem, not the solution.

The tweet about sexual harassment at Uber, the universal acceptance of such a horrendous problem, and the deafening silence!! Girls confide to their mother’s about inappropriate touch, and are told to keep quiet and keep themselves out of harm’s way! When girls are molested on the roads of Bangalore, pat comes the response from some idiot in power, the girls were wearing jeans… they brought it on themselves. What provocative dress was the 3 year old child wearing when she was sexually assaulted in her school??

This kind of “She’s to blame” mindset has to stop. Today. The reason why crimes against women keep increasing is because people know they can get away with anything. The police, the judiciary and parents are all responsible for the condition of women today. Girls are taught to keep quiet, keep their head down and not attract trouble.

Chup nahin rehna.

Anytime anyone anywhere does something derogatory, objectionable, harmful, let the world around become aware what sorts of perverts live in the garb of normal human beings. A few scums spoil the image of men the world over. I urge women to raise their voice, scream, shout, use physical force if necessary. Shame the men who touch, grope, letch and whistle. The important thing is to nip the evil in the bud.

Someone I know was molested a few months back. I asked her to file a complaint, and even told her of the online complaint system. The IG Police told me, they would go through the CCTV footage and nab the person once they received a complaint. She didn’t. I thought it was imperative that action is taken, but how can the police act if we don’t complain? I’m positive the man who got away knows he can get away with even more.
Most offices and institutions take harassment complaints very seriously. And it’s important to have a zero tolerance to nonsense like sexual innuedos, jokes and remarks, sexual advances. Do not keep quiet as the shame is only the perpetrator’s. The sick man who thinks he can get away because the woman would never complain. This is the time to stand up and say “No”. Chup nahin rehna.

When our children complain about someone touching them inappropriately don’t tell them to stay away. How do we know they will not be more vulnerable in our absence? Reach out to the perpetrator and let them know, their dirty secrets are not going to be kept in the closet. They will be put out in public view.
A respected friend of mine told me an uncle touched her breast when she was 14. She raised her voice and both her parents raised the issue so vocally in their family. This lady retired as a general manager of a firm and has single handedly run public crusades against high and mighty. She raised her voice, and her parents stood with her.

My daughter was pushed and hit by 2 boys in her class while she was doing duties assigned to her as class monitor. I gave a written complaint to the head mistress and the boys cried and apologized to her for misbehaving. This sent out two messages, one to my daughter that No One will get away with demeaning her, and second to the boys who will not misbehave with girls because they could not get away.

Chup nahin rehna.

Every time we see acquaintances with a black eye or bruises and we know its domestic violence, please raise your voice. Ring the bell in your neighbors’ house when you know someone is getting a beating. Be your sister’s keeper, one question, one call to the police, one warning, and the perpetrator will know he’s under watch. Why must we wait for a broken bone or a cracked skull? Why must we wait for anything worse?

That night of 16th Dec, before Nirbhaya, the guys in the bus had tried to pull another girl in….but she managed to run away. Had she complained to the police, had those men been questioned, knowing they were under watch, the whole episode might have been averted. Don’t think that anyone can get away with demeaning you, also know that you’re saving someone else from much worse.

Chup nahin rehna.

The thing about Indian women is the inherent low self-esteem. From the time of birth, they are second citizens. They are protected from foeticide not by their parents love, but by the law. Most girls are well aware that their parents wanted sons, and how disappointed the family was, at their birth.

Gender inequality has been in vogue since time immemorial. Draupadi, legally married to 5 husbands was called a whore, but no one called Arjuna a gigolo for sleeping with so many women, some of whom he could not even recall ,though his sons from them fought with him at Kurukshetra.

As long as the lion is mute, the hunter will be the hero of the story. Until and unless women start writing the rules of society, they will be treated badly. I have never had a problem of speaking up as I was raised in a gender neutral home. Things like “girls should do this, boys can do this” were never ever said. We were all given an education, raised to have opinions, earn a living, cook, clean and work regardless of our gender. I rode a cycle to bring bread for my mother and picked my father from the airport even at 11pm. The thought of my gender never crosses my mind whenever I have to do anything.

It’s important for parents to make their girls bold brave and outspoken. Timothey Leary once said “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition”. What is it that women cannot do? They have excelled in every sphere, be it space missions, hospitals, corporate board rooms, politics, education, fashion, movies and climbing Mount Everest. Women can bear babies and raise empires, prepare formulas and write emails, perform surgeries and plan outstanding satellite launches. So the limitation lies only in our thought process, not in our gender’s ability. Women really do rule the world. They just haven’t figured it out yet. When they do, and they will, we’re all in big big trouble.

Let this year’s step towards women empowerment be just this.
Chup nahin rehna.