www.timesofindiacom | November 21, 2017
Indian society often boasts of its rich culture. This culture is so deeply ingrained, that it is very hard to change it. But parts of it must be modified because it is not okay to be "okay" with it all anymore. It is not okay to suffer in silence; it is not okay if you have to be behind a dupatta every time your cousin visits; it is not okay to stay at home after six in the evening because you are scared and it is not okay if someone makes you feel weak because of gender.
Our culture always associates a sense of shame with any sexual offence. But the shame is only for the victim — it continues to haunt.
The Nirbhaya case shocked the nation. It brought thousands of people together, who said "enough is enough." Thousands took part in marches, shouting slogans, and demanding change — a change in not just the law but also mindsets. People wanted to say that wearing lipstick or short skirts were not an invitation to rape. They wanted a change, so that women were no longer expected to hide their faces to avoid harassment.
Did that change come? Not entirely. We read about rapes every day in the newspaper, we see reports on TV. It has all been normalized, again.
That is the real problem. The day we stop having a problem with things we should be having a problem with, is the day the actual problem starts.
The #MeToo campaign that was started by actress Alyssa Milano — soon after sexual assault accusations against Hollywood megaproducer Harvey Weinsteinemerged — asked survivors to use the hashtag to tell the world about the magnitude of the problem. So, it was shocking to read how people you had known for a while, had been victims of abuse. The discourse went on for about a week and then died. But the hashtag remained in collective memory.
One victim I interacted with, a college student from Bangalore, said: "I was travelling by Metro one evening and had worn my bag in the front because of a broken zipper. After a few minutes, I felt someone's hand on top of mine, where I was holding the handle for support. I took my hand away, assuming it was an innocent brush. But the next minute, I realized that a man behind me had crept up close. He was breathing down my neck and his hands were feeling up my waist. He was pulling my body close to his. I tried pushing him away, but he didn't stop. When the train's doors opened for the next station, I ran out. It was very crowded. There were a lot of people around me, but I couldn't ask for help. I could not get myself to say anything. I was shocked that something like this was actually happening with me."
Many did not even see the merit in such a discussion.
A working professional in Pune said: "I am all for campaigns and discussions. But what is it really going to change? This isn't something that is new to our society. I feel we must be cautious, rather than expecting the world to behave."