Bangalore For Women: A Clarion Call for Safety

It’s my sixth year in Bangalore and I have to say I love the city in more ways than one. It is here that I made the transition from a student to a working woman. However, like any other city in India, Bangalore too has its share of men who are a blotch to the safety of women. I have had my share of encounters with such nincompoops here too, just like any woman in any part of this city, or country or even the world would have had. Whether it was a conductor charging to literally hit me when I refused to walk towards the cramped edge of the bus filled with men or an auto driver almost at the verge of manhandling me; I have seen it all. I have had days when I came back home crying to get over the bitterness and discomfort caused by the encounters with such men who inadvertently lurk in every corner of this otherwise great city. But now that I think of it, I realize I have been one of the lucky ones for there are women I know of who have had experiences which were more painful and terrifying than mine.

What is it about being a woman that makes us vulnerable to men who could more appropriately be termed inhuman? Does something written on our foreheads invite their unacceptable advances or lewd remarks? What is it that makes some men feel so superior that they go ahead demeaning women without a shred of shame or remorse? Is it just the way they are built by some sort of unseen power above or is it the way they are brought up? I am sure men, the decent one’s, face a lot of problems too but the discomfort and constant fear that women live in surely isn't a feeling that is well known to them.

The onus is definitely not on women to dress a certain way or behave in a said manner to avoid trouble. A woman may wear the shortest of skirts but that does not give a man the right to grope her! A woman may travel with her boyfriend but that does not give people the right to judge her in the event of a mishap. Unfortunately though our pathetic society fails to see the point in all these as their narcissistic mindset always blames a woman for any mishap that might befall her! The icing on the cake again is when women too follow suit in condoning such crimes in the name of shame or tradition or some other dogmatic buffoonery! Don’t wear jeans, don’t eat chowmein, don’t use mobile phones, don’t wear sleeveless or don’t dance is all that our society can come up with to avoid crimes against women. Yes, we women are strong we know, much more than any man could ever be, though not physically but certainly emotionally and mentally but still what gives the society the right to burden us with such crap.

But what the society fails in doing, one would imagine that those in Government or Police would be able to take up ably. But when the people in authority come from this very society which is known for its mindset befitting a Neanderthal, the hope seems a myth, a fallacy! So does the obligation again shift to us women and a handful of true men to ensure safety to the fairer sex? What do we do as ordinary citizens? Or, more importantly what can we do?

With little or no expectation of help from authorities, the only thing that comes to my mind to ensure a society safe for women is to make certain we don’t raise boys into men who believe that they are superior to women. A few months back I happened to meet a girl, who was a teacher mind you. What she told me made me realize the extent to which we place men on pedestals in our country. She confided in me that wearing a sleeveless salwar kameez is something that she yearns for simply because her brother, who apparently loves wearing shorts, believes that sleeveless dresses aren’t for decent woman. Such men have so much power on women within the four walls of their house and such antediluvian thought processes that the moment they step out of their houses they carry this same delusional sense of power with them which eventually leads to crimes against women. Why do you think the mentality of teaching every woman who fights back against unsolicited advances a lesson propagates? Why do you think the courage of Sonali Mukherjee was responded with acid attack or the brave girl in Delhi brutally raped by a bunch of men? The simple explanation is that when families raise male children they inculcate in them the false sense of dominance and authority. Any challenge to this basic belief brings out the animal in them. So yes, if not anything else, we need to ensure that children whether boys or girls are taught that they are equal in every sense. The mother of boys needs to make sure that she raises boys whom she as a woman is proud of to begin with and then later as a mother. The mother of a girl needs to raise a daughter who knows that she is as much wanted as her brother might be and that she too is a gift from god!

Apart from that we need a system in place, an overseer or a supervisory body whose duty would only be ensuring the safety and security of women. To what extent that is realised is anybody’s guess! Till then though let us work at the grass root levels, let us try to change the mindset in every small way we can. If a woman in each household of this city, this country and this worlds resolves to ensure men in her house don’t think of women as commodities and also do not live in the bubble of supremacy, believe me a large number of devious and disreputable men would be reduced!

They say charity begins at home. Well this statement is analogous to safety too. Remember change begins at home, safety begins at home and a war is won only when its battles are won! Let’s fight, let’s teach and let’s bring the change we wish!