Women in India: Rape, Sexual Harassment and Molestation

In the land of Kamasutra, the land of approximately 1.324 billion lives, ironically, “sex” is a taboo. Women in India have it worse. Rape, Sexual Harassment, and Molestation are a part of everyday life. Let me take you to the real India, where we are not going to look through rose-tinted glasses to show how developed our country is, or how brilliant our minds are.

“I took the local subway to my college, every morning at 8:10. One day, while on my way, I sat down, fully clothed in Indian attire, reading ‘The Hunger Games’. A man, who boarded two stations after me, sat right across me. I noticed how he was still trying to peek through my clothes, even if only the palms of my hands were visible, and my feet. The next station, the train went underground, where everything we did was reflected in the black of the windows. I saw the reflection of his cell phone in the window behind him. In that phone’s reflection was Me. Yes!”

Another incident I, and almost all women in India face every day. Men trying to get “close” to us. ‘Accidentally’, of course! In one such incident, a man was rubbing his groin around my behind. In another, a man trying to make his way in the train, ‘accidentally’, brushed my nipples, for a major 30 seconds. It was that day I understood why women in India started carrying their bags in front of their bodies, and not behind.

Yes I have breasts, yes they are decently sized, but no I am not welcoming to you feeling them up or staring at them.

Are Women in India Really Equal?

Yes, India is vowing equal rights. More people are welcoming women into the workplaces, more and more people are realizing that women in India are not the inferior gender, but are we? Really?

According to a national daily in India, as of February 2017, there are about 6 reported rape cases in the capital city of India- Delhi. If these are the cases that are reported, imagine the number of the unreported cases! While in the country, in all the states combined, the figure goes up to 24,923 (2012). It is estimated that of all the rapes in India, only about 5-6% are reported in police stations. The actual figures? Who knows? Some statistics also claim that every 20 minutes a woman is raped in India. So while you take the morning shower, a woman, in some corner of India is getting raped.

While we look at women in India who are being raped every day in the country, we should not forget that an 18-month-old little girl was raped by a 33-year-old man, a father of two. The rape happened in front of his children on the pretext of playing with her. In yet another incident, a 100-year-old woman was raped by a drunk boy in his 20’s. She later died. As much as I love India, I loathe my “fellow brothers and sisters”.

Rape, Sexual Harassment, and Molestation

Another sexually-violent misconduct which needs to be reported but somehow does not get its share of attention – Marital Rape. According to the Indian Judiciary as well as our beloved Union leaders, a woman saying no to her husband, while he beats and still unloads in her, is not considered rape. It is his right since she is his wife. In India, marriage is a sacred concept, and because of our ‘culture’ and our ‘traditions’, it is okay to forcefully beat your wife to defile her.

In India, the problem of sexual misconduct is not just limited to rape cases. Yes, rapes are barbaric. They are the lowest form of human conduct, but we need to throw some light on the other major problems as well. Eve teasing, harassment, voyeurism, molestation.

It is an everyday scenario, where young women in India, like myself, move out, only to grab more attention. And mind you! We are ‘grabbing attention’ in winters as well when we are fully clothed. Men stare at us because they consider us “flowers” that are meant to be seen or touched and, sometimes, plucked!

They will take it upon themselves to ensure that you turn around, look at them, lower your eyes, and feel uncomfortable. They will stare at you as long as they want to and they will not hesitate. In fact, they consider it their duty to stare! Why? Because women in India are comfortable wearing leggings/jeggings and even skinny jeans outside. Our ‘body-hugging’ clothes arouse them to a point, that it is okay if we are raped. It came as a surprise to me, but is it true. These were the words of an AC repair guy to me: “Rape acchha hua” translated – It’s good that she got raped!

It is Not a Class Divide

The comment that came as a shock to me was from the mouth of an AC repair guy in Delhi. But such people are not categorized into two classes – educated and non-educated. Similar scenarios can be observed with the so-called educated class in India as well.

My fellow classmates, male counterparts, who are highly educated today – engineers, doctors, music producers, businessmen, marketing professionals, IT guys, statisticians, they all have similar mindsets as well. I remember one friend of mine telling me to dress up ‘properly’ or I am definitely asking for it.

A couple of months back, while I was looking for a job, I got an opportunity to work with one of the best law firms in Delhi. Little did I know what surprise I was in for! The renowned lawyer took me to his flat, on the pretext of a ‘business meeting’ where I was to accompany him since it was my new job. I waited for 15 minutes, (stupid enough of me) to actually get to know that he wanted to sleep with me. Yes! My boss, 47 years of age, father of a girl just 3 years younger than me, wanted to sleep with me. I somehow got out of the situation, scared and tormented. While he still drives his Porsche, looking for new women to sleep with.

This is the privileged and the educated India I present to you.

So what is it? Is it my clothes? Or the fact that I carry around an imaginary placard saying “fuck me”? What drives them?

Since the rapists and other molesters dwell around me, grew up around me, I wonder what drives them!

Bollywood Teaches Stalking

Bollywood has romanticized stalking. In fact, Bollywood’s financial blockbuster movies depict following women, passing lewd remarks, “singing” obscene songs, pursuing them, it is all because you are in love with the woman and are trying to make her fall in love with you. This can be linked to why men whistle or speak things while I and many women pass by them. In fact, in Australia, an Indian man was acquitted from a case of ‘stalking a woman’ simply because it is the norm in Bollywood movies. It is believed that it is the only way to woo a woman.

Many men, who are trying to make society believe that they are “real men”, the macho figures, either molest women or simply rape them. They find it amusing and it is a mode of hanging out with friends, having fun. Defiling a woman mentally and physically makes them feel “manlier” and “better”. Another major reason? In India, because of the orthodox feudalistic approach we have to genders and upbringings, men can simply get away with whatever they do. Be it sleeping with other women after being married to one, or simply raping someone when frustrated sexually. Men, in many cases, are also vowing to teach a woman and sometimes even a child a lesson, since they ‘provoke’ them.

We are going out to simply ‘provoke’ men! Yes, that is our hobby. We have nothing better to do. We have all the time in the world, and we are always horny. Yes!

India’s Legal Justice Fails

Legal justice in case of rapes is not good enough in India. It takes 15 years for someone to get justice in some cases. While, if we talk about eve-teasing and sexual harassment, laws are not strong either. Even if they are useful in some cases, most women in India are concerned about their “public image” and the later harms the police investigation is going to cause them trying to get married. This is the state of India I live in.

Our GDP might be good enough, our economic figures might be great as well, also, we might be one of the best countries to invest in for financial growth in businesses, but we still are feudal in certain cases.

As a citizen of India, a woman, looking forward to her future life with optimistic eyes, who knows what is to come next? Another sexual remark, another pair of eyes stuck on my breasts, or something worse. I am looking forward to when India will change, when it will become a happier and a better place for our future generations, at least!

About Saumya Khanduja

A cat lover, a book lover, and a beach lover: Saumya is all shades of being human. A sociology graduate from India, who spends most of her time writing. Outside the realm of the web, she loves cooking, sketching, and listening to the cello. A Game Of Thrones enthusiast, she might be small, but can "slay" you!

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