It’s 2013 and people in Delhi are scared to send their daughters to school

16 January 2013 | Shruti Kohli | NEW DELHI

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My beautician has a ten-year old daughter. She missed ten days of school just before her winter holidays began last month. Why? Because the gang rape incident of Dec 16 had left her parents scared and they would not let her walk back alone from the bus stop even though she returned from school in broad day light every afternoon. They spent the winter holidays working out ways to make sure that she has good company when she walks back home from the bus stop every afternoon.

 

An elderly woman who has a young divorced daughter and a seven year old grand daughter, says she has heard that the rape victim had an affair with one of the six rapists who assaulted her! A Hindi news channel was running a ticker sometime that the girl was supposed to get married in February this year.

 

A survey conducted by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), an industry body, reveals that since the incident, one in three women working in the IT sector in Delhi either reduced working hours after sunset or quit their jobs. The study estimates that, in the aftermath of the attack, the productivity of women employed in the IT sector in the Delhi area has dropped by as much as 40%. There are about 2,200 IT and outsourcing companies in the Delhi area, employing over 250,000 women.

 

Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai have also felt the ripple effect.  However, women in these cities say that they felt safer as compared to women in Delhi or areas surrounding the city. Women commuting by public transport feel the most unsafe. The BPO employees are worst affected as they are required to work odd hours.

 

So, even as the men continue with their lives unhindered, women are once again bearing the brunt of men’s aggression and atrocities. They are forced to leave jobs, reduce work hours adversely affecting their efficiency and then there’s a section of society, like always, which is holding the rape victim responsible for the incident.

 

Well, another set of society feels sorry for women because “they have a serious biological hitch.” Got it! But we can’t stop living lives just because of a deficiency! As human beings, we are cut to fight. We must fight and find a way to beat this hurdle.

 

That done, there’s another major hurdle which is in fact a bigger hurdle. It’s the attitude of the people towards women. We live in a biased, unsafe society. Not just men, even women are pitched against other women. Why else would a woman who has a daughter and a granddaughter say that it was the rape victim’s fault when all details of the case are in the open? Why else would women gather during post lunch gossip sessions and say that “the girl was at fault in being out so late in the night (8:30pm is late when it comes to another woman), in taking a bus at that hour, and in being with a man (but didn’t they tell us it was safe to go out if you were escorted by a man?).”

 

Even as I walk terribly disturbed and disheartened by all this, I suddenly and pleasantly bump into people like the five housemaids I met at the post-rape protests at Jantar Mantar, in-laws who are allowing their daughters-in-law to study and work after marriage, women who are equipping themselves physically to take on any physical adversity, women who are vocal about the sexual harassment they had to face at work or at home, men and women who refute baseless allegations like the one made by the elderly lady about rape victim’s affair with one of the rapists by saying, “This is absolutely wrong. But even if it was true, rape and murder is no case is justified.”

 

This gives me some hope for a positive change that I anticipate and that The Petticoat Journal is working hard to achieve. Keeping my hope intact, I look forward to many more well-meaning women and men to join us in our endeavours to build a brighter tomorrow.

shruti kohli

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What to Do!

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