Twitter and Facebook exploded yesterday after a woman, Shivani Gupta, claimed that another lady had asked a group of men to rape Gupta because of her short dress. After facing relentless attacks, the offending woman, Soma Chakraborty apologized to Gupta. Chakraborty later said that she valued the dignity of every woman and girl.
I looked up at the video shared by Shivani on Facebook but couldn’t find the offensive ‘rape order’. Shivani says in that video that the ‘rape order’ is captured in the CCTV footage of a Gurugram mall where the incident happened. Let’s assume that Shivani’s version is true.
After watching this video posted on Shivani’s Facebook wall, two things struck me.
As a society, we suck
One- we are a hypocritical society. For us, our malls, big cities, and towns constitute the real India. We live in our own cocoons and refuse to look at the ‘other India’. Let me elaborate on this point.
The video that Shivani posted drew at least 4.3 million views, and at the time of writing this article, this count was rising rapidly. More than 1,500 people commented in favor of the 30 -year old copywriter and poured vitriol on Chakraborty.
But, pray, where were these self -righteous people when a UP-based politician wondered about the color of the underwear that Jayaprada wears? Where was all this indignation? That’s the hypocrisy that I am calling out. Simply because Rampur is not Delhi or Bombay, the self-righteous brigade cannot outrage selectively.
Women pull down other women
The second thing is about the woman-woman relationship in our society. I believe that the bigger enemies of women rights and liberties in India are women themselves.
In this Gurugram mall case. the two main characters were women themselves. There is no man anywhere in the picture. One woman decides to wear a short dress, and the other one questions her dressing sense.
You may consider it to be an isolated incident, but look at all the Balaji serials and you will agree with what I say. In most of the incidents where women are harassed ( dowry, mental and physical harassment, and even kidnapping), you will find the involvement of other women. Read this research paper which confirms what I am saying- women are equally, if not more, responsible for crimes against other women.
There is a third point too that needs to be discussed but is often swept under the carpet and that has go to do with parental instincts.
If you are a 20 or 30-year old, then probably you won’t understand what I am saying. Parents, on the other hand, will connect with me, I hope.
As India becomes more and more urbanized, new migrants to cities and towns will find it difficult adjusting to urban ‘values’. Some of these values are girls wearing short dresses, staying out late, and bringing male friends to their homes. Parents who have recently shifted to big towns from smaller cities bring their own value systems and we can’t blame them for that. Now you may quibble that this does not give any right to any middle-aged aunty to pass judgements on a girl’s dress sense. I agree with you. But try looking at the Gurugram mall issue from the perspective of Chakraborty, a parent.
Things get more complicated when we see that young women working in the offices of the high and mighty are sexually harassed by judges and other powerful people and there is no remedy! Overprotective parents then rush forward and try to shield their daughters from the prying eyes of the lecherous men, in whichever ways they can. So, let’s look at the whole issue holistically rather than from the point of view of Shivani. By the way, I am not defending Soma Chakraborty at all. Whatever she said or did, was horrible. I am sure, Chakraborty said those words with the right intentions.
Lastly, who decides what is decent or indecent clothing? The maulvis and the aunties of our society?
At a time, when we are struggling to remove burqa from our social milieu, women like Soma Chakraborty give covering fire to the maulvis and ulemas of our society. Don’t you remember that Kerala professor who termed uncovered breasts as slices of watermelons?
I guess, our value systems will take some time to change from being primitive to contemporary. As parents, we ought to respect the choices our kids make. At the same time, as a society, let’s not be hypocritical – Rampur is also India, and so is Gurugram.