According to the Delhi and NCR Police, the equation is so very simple. A woman who works (sometimes after 8 PM), wears anything except salwar kameez with dupatta, is independent and has male friends is definitely asking to be raped.
According to them, I love to be pulled into a car and have men force themselves upon me. I would (apparently) also get money at the end of it. Obviously, if I was to try and register an FIR, I would be put through a character assasination, asked if the ‘deal’ fell through and then subjected to the two finger test. If by the end of that, I didn’t want to commit suicide, I would be a slut. So, if I thought I wasn’t living in 19th century India or in a Taliban land, I am so wrong.
Every day a Delhi woman steps out of her house, she psychologically gears herself up for scrutiny on all her actions, judged by what she wears and how she behaves.
I have been ‘éve teased’ wearing a salwar kameez and dupatta as I was entering my office complex. And when I was 14, a drunk man grabbed me from behind as I was going home in a bus. There were no breasts to grab at that time. I was 18 when a man felt up my crotch while I was coming from college. I wasn’t asking to be violated. And yet, I felt like I had done something wrong.
Whenever I had to walk, I would not walk on unlit pavement, instead walking on the side of the road which had oncoming traffic. That way no one could come from behind and pull me a car. A can of pepper spray was always in my bag. And whenever I could, I would wear androgynous clothing. I would carry a huge rucksack, making it difficult for ‘gropers’ to feel me up from the back. I would walk funnily with my hands at an awkward angle, ready to shield the front part of my body from men who would accidently walk into me. And then I got a car. I never walk to any place now. I always drive. I don’t use the public transport anymore. That as a Delhi woman was my solution to the ‘problem’.
But the solution obviously needed upgrading when once I had a car full of men follow me in the most secure Lutyens Delhi area, window rolled down, all of them hooting. So now if I work past 9 PM now, I drive back home rashly, going over speed limit and overtaking as many cars as I can. I try to not use an indicator while turning or changing lanes. This is my way of creating an illusion that it’s a Delhi man driving the car. I don’t drive like a girl anymore.
I am instantly wary of anyone. I trust no one.
I would love walk down the old lanes of Chandni Chowk one day (without been groped). I would love to go for a jog in a sports attire. I would love to travel on the bus without worrying if some lecherous man accidently touches my butt or breasts. I would love to wear a summer dress when it’s hot. I would love to go to parks and explore historical monuments in my city. I would love to have a late or an impromptu dinner with my friends and drive back home without worrying if I would get there safely or have a male friend drop me home.
The thought that I could get raped, stops me.
People may call my fear irrational and my reactions over the top. But when the system that keeps the society in checks and balances fails to accept that a woman can be a victim, it is a scary thought. The aggressor is considered right even though he cannot control his urge. So what really is a difference between a male perpetrator of sexual crime and a street dog? Even the dog is better. At least he chooses to mate with a bitch that is in heat.
And although my lament won’t make a difference but saying aloud that a problem exists is a step forward. A woman NEVER asks for it. She never says assault me, she never says – rape me. Even if she is wearing a dress instead of a sari and even if she is drinking wine instead of chai. Even if she is hanging out a male friend or two.
While you are at it, go read an account of a rape victim here.