At the stroke of midnight of the New Year, as the country was rejoicing the beginning of 2017, some Indian men in a fairly urban part of the country were busy teaching ‘westernised’ and ‘wayward’ Indian women about Indian culture.
January 1, 2017. This is how India celebrated the New Year- with mass molestation. Do you know why? Because of the Indian culture!
Crowds began to gather at the popular MG road and Brigade Road in Bengaluru from 9 PM onward. The area is known for the best pubs and clubs in the city. As the young Bengaluru crowd indulged themselves in the New Year celebrations, a group of hooligans were busy setting targets and preparing strategies with an aim to commit barbaric acts.
As the clock turned to 11 PM and the level of excitement among the revellers increased, these men unleashed their reign of terror on the unsuspecting crowd, molesting women. These sex predators ran around groping women and passing lewd comments. Some women got off their stilettos and ran, while others desperately sought help from men around them. There were some who also turned to the 1500 deployed cops, but to no avail. It was an unforgettable night of shame, indeed.
It’s a man’s world
Interestingly, an Indian man always manages to make everything about him somehow work for him. The apparent exceptions to the hooligan lot went on a spree of defence. They desperately made it about proving to themselves and the world that – #NotAllMen are the same; #NotAllMen disrespect women; #NotAllMen are chauvinistic. Yes, we get that!
As expected, suddenly it wasn’t about the incident anymore, it wasn’t about dealing with the mentality either; now it had become about whether or not all men are the same. Why is it so difficult to understand that what women need is empathy, not the ‘but I didn’t do it’ attitude.
Next thing we know women were doing something crazy – they started revisiting all those incidents, which were probably hidden deep down in the denial section of their subconscious mind and started talking about it.
All those incidents of childhood abuse, justification of abuse by families – ‘but he is a good man’, being touched inappropriately by a passerby as a child, ‘the thing’ being flashed, sexual abuse by friends, boyfriends, husbands, relatives – all of it. And #YesAllWomen did face at least one of these incidents in their lives, it’s true. But trust me when I say this, it takes courage to remind oneself of the pain and helplessness that one felt then and speak to the world about it. But it is important. You need to know the pain to understand it, to not make everything about yourselves. I tried to participate but I started shivering with tears rolling down my cheeks. Hat’s off to those of you who went through with it.
The politics of sexual abuse
How can we speak of sexual abuse and not expect male politicians to have their ‘expert opinions’. Immediately after this incident we had politicians across parties talking about how it was because women weren’t dressed appropriately, Western culture, etc. So in our country dressing a certain way is against Indian culture but sexual assault isn’t.
Interestingly enough, the Right Wing, known for their online abusers and offline molesters disguised as ‘rakhwalas’ of Indian Culture (VHP, RSS, Ram Sene, etc) started throwing around moral sciences. From ‘extending time to 2 AM was a bad idea’ to ‘it’s because of alcohol’, they said it all. The party that makes ’50 crore girlfriend’ type remarks was suddenly talking about moral right and wrong and those known for snooping and abandoning women, thought they had a moral standing to make these comments. A political opportunity is all they saw, but the public sees through these intentions better, especially when a rape accused continues to serve in the cabinet of the national government.
We need to ask ourselves – where does the problem really lie? We let our boys grow up feeling over entitled and attach gender roles at an early age. The girl lays the table and the boy gets the video game. We need to nip the problem in its bud and till we do that, no amount of police deployments or amendments in law will really be able to change things. Each one of us – man and woman – must consciously stop this.
Casual sexism and normalising rape culture is the basis of the problem. Don’t make it a part of your life. If someone around you makes a sexist joke, don’t participate. Stop them. Unknowingly, we too are contributing to this mentality.
In conclusion I must mention, I condemn the initial statement of the Karnataka home minister in the strongest possible terms. However, the effort on the part of the police have been commendable. Six molesters have been identified and arrested within 4 days. Let’s hope the victims get justice this time.