Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lakshman Rekha

Men and women experience urban space differently.

(a universal truth, which I would have thought everybody would have perceived and experienced).

However, at a recent party, we just happened to talk about this- and one guy said- "Is that true? I really don't know. I think this atleast does not happen in India"


Which essentially proves my point- men and women experience urban space differently. AND- that this guy was a thick blockhead with no perception.

Women grow up (especially in India) with an inherent sense of the implicit and perceived danger in open urban spaces. We have all heard incessant warnings about not going out after dark, ever.
We've all had our share of those experiences- be it a groping hand passing by on the street, on the crowded public bus, waiting for the bus at night...
My point being- an inherent caution of public space is built into women, and it comes as a natural part of our perception and experience. I had thought of this as something everybody knew- there is, after all, a lot of press on Eve-teasing, and women's molestation, etc.- especially in India. It is part and parcel of our daily life in India.
More so, because public places are not deemed as "proper" places for respectable Indian women to be seen in. Being in a public place at the wrong time is "asking for it".

New Year's Eve, Mumbai was not an aberration. India is getting unsafer by the day (ToI, sometime this Jan).
Take a look at these guidelines- they would be hilarious, if they were not so saddeningly true. These are rules that are internalized by all Indian women, and have been spelt out only for visitors. YES, this is how we all know we are supposed to behave. These are our Lakshman-Rekhas...

So it irritated me no end when an educated, supposedly well-read Indian said this. Made me angry. Maybe somebody needs to put their blinkers away. This truth will never penetrate his narrow vision, perception and thought. Actually, considering his ways of thinking, he maybe believes women have no need to be in a public place at all! (As you can guess, I am infuriated).

Does this say something about Indian men? If they don't even SEE the problem, how can effective steps be made to solve it???

See here!!!


i149 said...

Ya know, some time ago I think it was in CHennai that the police dept came up with this solution: they sent out policewomen who were trained in martial arts along with women acting as decoys to places where eve teasing was known to occur.. and of course some bloke would eventually try to feel up the decoy and then the policewomen would trash him nice and good. no police case, no arrest, just a thorough public beating. i think it is an excellent thing to do. of course what happened was that some particular place, near an engineering college was famous for girls being subjected to lewd comments and worse, and policewomen went and thrashed offenders there on several occasions.. at which the student body of that college complained to the police! and the programme was stopped. sad, but true..

Annie said...

thanks for dropping by my turf. and hey, your ideas are interesting wrt urban space. this is just the sort of discussion we have and want to extend, through blank noise. would you like to do a guest post or something for us? or join the egroup?

Mechanical said...

I suspect the guy who said that might be suffering from a case of stereotypes. Anything ethnic "happens only in India" and anything (ideas included) novel "does not happen in my country".
I wonder if he even thought about what you said.