- Posted August 22, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
India – a place as safe as any other for women
I won’t be sharing any horror stories of being harassed, although I have had my share of those traumatic experiences like any other woman in India. What I will indeed do is boil down these unfortunate incidents to basics and share coping mechanism. I will begin by asking why you would want to talk about something so ugly and traumatic in a viral social medium, knowing that it won’t serve any good purpose. Assuming you are not actually raped, wouldn’t you choose to ignore these indecent acts and move on? My apologies for these strong words but that’s exactly how I would put it even to my closest and dearest friends. Isn’t that what we practice in any unfortunate situation where we have no control? My heart goes out to RoseChasm for undergoing what she did while being away from her home country. But if you boil down her situation to fundamentals and compare it to other terrible catastrophes, viral fever for e.g.; you will come to realize that there is no need to spend days in agony after recovering from a deadly virus. You get the right aids, you take precaution as needed and you move on. Eventually you become immune to it. And, that my friends, is the most important take away from such experiences. I assure RoseChasm that on her next visit to India, or in a similar situation, she will find the courage to be more resilient and less affected by these unfortunate behaviours. This is also how an average Indian women in a nation with 1 billion people, and where in they manage to draw nearly half a billion of unwanted attention to themselves, get by with their lives and look forward to better things.
The learning doesn’t stop there. It actually helps you when you are thousands of miles away from India, like I am. I have lived in the Midwest and two major cities in the US. I am in a job where I constantly travel and work in an industry where there are so few of us. As a woman of “ethnic origin”, I have received attention and ignorant questions at the places where you would least expect them to pop up. Some of those behaviours could be attributed to curiosity of people because of the ethnic factor, but majority of those behaviours can simply be attributed to ignorance and hasty stereotyping. I shared my experience and anger over being stereotyped with a colleague who is from a different origin too, but has managed to learn the ways of the world. His advice to me was that you have to understand where people come from and then lower your expectations and ignore their silly acts. Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to stand up when you experience injustice but be wary not to stereotype. It not only tarnishes an entire category of people, but it also shuts your own mind to whatever good there is in your surroundings, that can influence you. Another basic takeaway –focus on the positives.
Lastly, how can you choose to ignore the diversity of the place and the diverse relationships that you can build nowhere but in India? A few days ago, India women everywhere celebrated Rakshabandhan. It’s a festival wherein women tie a thread on the wrist of their brothers and any brotherly figures who take a wow to protect them. There is so much good that comes out of those relationships and I would like to believe that eventually that good will win over the bad inflicted by the unthinkable acts that are coming to light more often in India lately. Maybe it’s my cheesy bollywood self, but i would still like the world to remember India as a place where you will experience things that broaden your mind almost to the point of spiritual enlightenment and also a place whose warmth still makes you want to come back given its good, bad and ugly.