- Posted August 22, 2013 by
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
You’re not welcome anymore, I will survive….
If some thought keeps you awake at night, after a full day’s work and decent exercise then it’s not all right. It’s been three days since I read the report and the ensuing discussions of the difficult predicament of a woman being mentally, emotionally and maybe physically violated in a foreign country, my beloved country, and I can’t sleep!! How on earth did she manage three long months? Stumps me. I would have thought she would have wanted or at least made an effort to have gone back home sooner. I would have.Michaela, I do wish you get well and happy soon.
Let me state at the onset that I am quite the advocate of women’s rights and do not think it is right for any man or woman to make a woman feel violated even by a glance, let alone groping and snatching or verbal tease. I do not endorse wearing a veil or head to toe covering in an effort to be safe. But I do have my reservations as to where and how I apply these principles. As a woman I empathize with Michaela Cross and as a Sociologist I feel her experience begs discussion in a larger context. I will try not to repeat the discussions that have already been provided.
I think the major problem in today’s times is that we take things and experiences in vacuum, out of context and expect it all to fall in place. You cannot be used to one thing and be in a totally alien atmosphere unless you are a thoroughly trained sociologist or social anthropologist. If you were to read the Sociological literature around the preparations and understanding that go into visiting and living in a new society you would be amazed at how hard you have to work to understand the nuances of a culture. First, I would just like to know what is socio-economic background of the lady (I use ‘the lady’ as it could be any woman, and to avoid having Michaela Cross in a spot) in question, what she was used to socio-culturally back home, and what she was not used to. Also, what was the socio-economic background of the places she visited in India. The two need to be compared, to understand why what happened did, and for it not to be repeated with anyone. As stated by someone in the comments section of the article, even some of us Indians, and that is a male writing, do not venture to stay in the kinds of places many foreign students and tourists, back-backers, stay in the countries they visit. For example, in India, Darya Ganj, some pockets of Karol Bagh in New Delhi, many areas in Goa are not the places where even we, the somewhat affluent and so called international citizens if India, would stay. These places are cheap, easy on the budget and also sleazy locales and you will find the highest incidence of crime in such places. I am sure most countries in the world have these areas, South of Chicago etc. If one goes to the University of Chicago site there are many warnings like this from fellow students. So, clearly even in Chicago one has to be careful.There are many more such discussions on the board.
“i think the campus is safe. but you have to realize, in a big city you should try not to walk alone at night.Also...the adjacent areas are kinda seedy.
i mean U of C is kinda surrounded by the hood...lol
naturally...some places in chicago are tough
but the campus itself is secured and if u want to wander around the city do it in the daytime or @ night with a friend (preferably one with a car at night just in case something happens if you stray too far)”
So, for those venturing out of their cocoons, hectic searching needs to be done as we all know that travel sites and dormitories and so on advertise something on the internet and it turns out to be quite something else in reality.
Exotic public dancing even at a religious festival with people from all and especially lesser socio-economic walks of life is not a done thing even by the best of us,(read University of Delhi etc,students) and those of us who do jump in the fray, usually with known groups, do so with caution. I know, people will argue against this, but it is the truth, and if you are acultured enough you would understand it, and if you don’t, and want to argue otherwise well, you should take a trip to Dutchland, instead of exotic India. Also, your professors and university should have trained you and warned you better, they are as much to blame.
Please understand that nothing excuses what the lady went through, but it is just important to see facts in the right context. So for anyone to go to a foreign country and realize that they are in a space very removed from what they are used to, it needs immediate rectification. You don’t wait three months to take remedial action; do take it faster please, because it pains me to read that some lady went through so much trauma every day in my country.
For all my fellow Indians, especially the men, who feel so ashamed of their country?? Where does your country feature here?? Feel ashamed of fellow men and teach your sons better. Our country is you and it is me. It is as much you as it is the groper. So, either deal with the problem or just keep shut and let the others deal with it at their end. Over the past few days, Indian society and Indian men, as a generalization, has been called misogynistic and patriarchal that have made me want a “mental leave of absence” as I am highly offended and upset by such generalizations.We do need to work on the issue of safety of women in India, as we do many other aspects of society, but sitting in your drawing rooms and commenting on what a pathetic state Indian society is in and the rest of the world is oh! so chaste attitude is surely doing nothing for your image.In fact it says more about your character than it does about India!
Well, for a while, let invert the argument, let us all agree that Indian men are like this, they rape, they masturbate at you, they grope women, they stare at different looking foreigners and so on. This is the problem, so what is the solution? Yes, many have rightly pointed out that it is a huge socio-cultural shift that is required, agreed. Some have put the entire blame on politicians. But, the problem is that the present day gropers, rapists are already adults, and difficult people with many mental issues (anywhere in the world) How and who is to deal and undo their socialization process now? Yes, if the rage is loud enough, at least in this case let, the perpetrators be pointed out by the lady in question, and with the backing of the world’s largest superpower, pulled out and beheaded and hanged in public like witches were hanged in England in earlier days, to make an example of it. The problem in today’s discourse is that if one set deals with problems harshly, another set of people say the human rights lobby will get up and present an opposing argument. So, how then do government’s deal with this? Learned legal people can maybe suggest and give solutions. I am merely raising questions. And I for one do not have the guts to stand up directly to a rapist or a groper, other than slap him or rough up his balls with my knee, yes I have done it as a teenager, but now with the growing tendencies of violence around the world, I am just shit scared. How does one deal with people with sexual mental illness? I would rather play safe and stay indoors when it is the wrong time and wrong place, period.
The much desired change can only come from this generation where you and I will tell the boys what the place of women in society is. And that is a whole generation away, till then what is it that I can do to keep me and the women in my life safe? Well, I have my ways ,am sure you have yours.
For foreign students it might be best then to stay away from the country, that I love, my India, who I deal with as woman every day, yet am super proud and will not have anyone disregard the entire breed of men or the nation as a whole for behavior of what I call “mental terrorists” which can be found all over the world.
“Mental Terrorists”; (usually) men around the world from all walks of life, men who are perpetrators of violence mental and physical, of sexual abuse, of pedophilia, of homophobia to name a few of our present day issues.
But, there are men out there who are wonderful human beings and deserve all the respect and affection in the world.
Till the cleansing of India has been achieved to an acceptable level then, brings me to the heading.