Have you ever felt the need to destroy your face and look ugly? Have you ever felt you are being followed almost everyday? Have you ever felt unsafe but also voiceless and defenseless just because no one else is bothered with what happens to you?
Its been a couple of days after I heard of an incident that happened near my workplace in broad daylight. There was an attempt for abduction of a woman who was just like you and me, travelling by public transport called the auto-rickshaw. She was lucky enough to escape uninjured, but imagining 2 extra men apart from the driver getting into your ride and asking you to shut up in broad daylight where you scream and scream your heart out trying to escape and NO HUMAN BEING INTERVENES. She had screamed off her life hanging on to the side of the rick trying to escape but onlookers just kept looking. Friends, that is Bangalore for you. A city which sleeps all the time and no one wants to help anybody. I have noticed, everyone adopts a defensive and reserved approach during situations like this. On the flip side, back in Mumbai, my father met with a minor accident when a speeding rickshaw rammed into him and the public pulled out the driver by his collar. The city where I come from, women are protected by the public. A scream is enough to huddle up the public and catch hold of the guy who has just been your pain. Well this Bangalore incident was enough to give me goosebumps. I began wondering, how many women are about to face this later, a joint mafia of auto drivers and people on the roads.
I often pass a very low lighted area to go home which gets me praying and chanting hymns and verses of God which I normally never get time for. Perhaps that is the only time I am spiritual. Men ogling and following are nothing new for women in Bangalore. But screaming out or mouthing a slang or two would never help. There is always an uncomfortable feeling no matter how safe I feel a certain area is. I have perhaps rarely gone through these circumstances back home. Yes I did, a few times, but I always had my brother or my father to my rescue. One of them was always awake to see me back home late in the night.
Perverts are there everywhere irrespective of the city, but it is on how people support each other. Perhaps a conservative Bangalore has just recently become a metro city and seeing a lot of migrants might have got these perverts’ sexual appetite on the rise. They perhaps have also learnt women don’t retort here nor talk. Even if they do something, these women are just too scared to face them and then add shame to their names. I travel by bus everyday and see men sitting on reserved seat for women. But does any woman speak up and claim her seat, very rarely.
Women don’t have a voice because they have never tried voicing their concerns. This city, if it needs to be one of the top Indian cities, it also needs to be safe. Anyone who seems a non- Kannada speaking Indian is considered vulnerable enough to be taken for a ride by rickshaw drivers and perverts in the public. Men try to move safe here and prove their cowardness almost everyday while a woman just shows she’s got no voice, except when another woman pushes her. How ironic, women show their true colors only when it comes to another woman, but with a man, they often go mute.
I cuss this city everyday. I am unhappy here, only because of this place. I was just beginning to make peace with this city’s culture till I heard a few incidents and now I have gone back to hating this place even more. It’s definitely not because of the fact that such men are around, its because people just don’t want to raise an alarm or help anyone who raises it!
So what should a woman do? Should she enroll for self defense or should she simply choose to ignore such behaviour. Wake up, Bangalore, not just to smell the coffee, but also to women’s freedom of expression and movement.