- Posted August 24, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
A lesson Indian women (and men) can take from Michaela Cross.
Michaela Cross’ story has gone viral. Reactions ranging from disbelief, surprise, and indifference to shame, anger and sympathy have been expressed on multitude of channels. There has been defense and offence around the story. I noted a lesson that Indian women can draw – of Speaking Up. I also noted a lesson that Indian men can draw – of allowing them to Speak Up.
Michaela Cross is not the first woman to have gone through this. She’s also not the first white woman who has gone through this. Yet her attempt at documenting her experience moved the netizens to react. As has been observed in so many reactions to her story, there are so many girls in India who might be going through this every day. But it’s a done thing. Because they don’t experience a high volume of trashy treatment only in a matter of weeks. They possibly go through this fairly early in life and grow up with this being a small or big part of everyday life. We don’t know how many times our sisters, cousins or girlfriends might have gone through the disgraceful bus rides similar to Cross’. They just happen to not talk about this. Writing that experience on public forum and attaching a life sized picture with that piece? What will neighbors think of her? What will neighbors or relatives think of her parents and her family? Will there be murmurs about her at work or in college?
In all this thinking process, what goes missing is WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK OF THE MAN who did it? Why not shift the focus on the culprit? Cross’s story was accompanied by her life sized picture. Why is her picture important here? That report could have been far more effective if there were pictures of men she mentioned. Their life sized pictures indulged in the act, pictures of those heinous eyes piercing through her. Of course, in that fearsome situation, who would remember or even afford to click pictures? Given poor conviction rates, how could one get pictures so many of those who don’t get reported or convicted.
Many Indian girls might experience these traumatic phases right from the beginning of adolescence. If they start making noise about it on the spot, if they feel assured that that noise will be heard, if they begin pointing out those men, if they begin reporting these incidents – if they could do all this this without any fear of them or their family being judged , then one Michaela Cross story can’t become viral.
What would stop an Indian woman from reacting the way Cross did after having gone through exact same series of incidents that Cross went through ( if not more). Women in India would find it harder than her to write about this because Michaela was not a part of social dynamics, she was here temporarily, and she probably wrote the article after going back, when she was insinuated from social repercussions.
Reducing the social consequences for women in such situations could be one of the effective strategies to reduce the malaise of these disrespectful incidents. This gives responsibilities in the hands of both constituents of our society –women and men. Women need to Speak Up. Men and Women need to assure the women that Speaking Up is good, that speech will be heard. For Good.