- Posted August 26, 2013 by
washington, District of Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
India: Life as an XX=XXX
The first cut is deep but not the deepest. The welt grows deeper with every fresh encounter. The eyes of the man who can molest a seven year old sear themselves into the deepest recesses of a young girl’s mind. That first incident will remain imprinted in my memory as a moment when I felt violated and guilty at the same time. I look at it now as most heart-breaking for the mother who has to console her daughter. What is more painful is that her daughter, along with this fresh wound, needs to be conditioned to this being an eventuality. This is going to be one of the first of many such encounters in her future in India. The infinite times that a bus ride finds a male hand slyly sliding into your most private body part is part of our daily commute. The recent brutal gang-rape of the 23 year old physiotherapy student while travelling in a Delhi bus testifies to our having to live in constant fear. What is more sickening is that very little is being done to change the law of the jungle.
The daily life of an Indian woman revolves around how much she can protect herself. It is not surprising that India and Bangladesh coined a misleadingly benign euphemism that includes all forms of sexual harassment, “eve-teasing;” but has not found any way to address it. The spectrum of gender based debauchery ranges from lewd, smarmy remarks to overt sexual molestation and groping. In a sick tortuosity of justice, somehow our culture mandates that the responsibility to prevent it is solely the woman’s. The prevailing wisdom in India is that you invite these sexual overtures upon yourself. But I fail to understand this dictum. It never mattered whether I dressed in my most conservative outfit or a pair of jeans, which is considered provocative – the sexual harassment never changed in scale or form. Being born with a double X chromosome automatically rolls you out on a life-long conveyor belt of recurrent sexual endangerment.
I am an educated young Indian woman. I am a physician, a student, a sister, a daughter and a friend. But all the confidence that these roles instil in me disappears the instant I travel on a bus or walk in a crowd in India. Every time I am grabbed, brushed against, leered at or touched inappropriately, a small part within my soul shrivels up and dies. I have been fortunate enough to take in the overpowering smell of freedom from my time studying abroad. However I know there are countless women who will never have this opportunity. I am now going back to India to work on cleaning the oppression out of the air and helping freedom filter in. There are so many questions and convoluted theories that I need to sift through my head before I do this. All I know for sure is that the first step is creating awareness through as many channels as possible.
The myriad reasons that have led to this level of depravity against women in India have been the source of constant debate. Is it the stagnancy of the Indian legal system with a complete ineptitude to serve punitive sentences to the sexual delinquents who prowl the streets of India? Is it the patriarchy that filtered in with the advent of the conservative Muslim Mughals to India? Is it the law of the world where the physically frailer gender have the eternal misfortune to be preyed upon? Is it the hormonal pathway which wires men to be more sexually overt? Is it that Indian culture is simply unable to see that its view of women is a relic of the Dark Ages?
It is a tragedy that every child born with a double X chromosome is promised a life of constant objectification and predation in India. There is a dichotomy in opinion among Indians on this issue. Many say that sexual violence against women is a global phenomenon and not just limited to the Indian subcontinent. That is a true yet reprehensible fact. Just because this is factually accurate does not mean we can discount its occurrence and not work towards changing it. I return to India now in a bid to work on changing this accepted norm.
The public outcry following the recent event in Delhi, a truly gruesome crime; have all but faded away. The questions and theories abound but one thing remains constant. The unchanging prospect will remain that the double X will continue to be treated as an object to fulfil the desires of India’s most gruesome people, unless all who care about the issue—everywhere—stand up, fight, and redress. And I ask for your help in spreading the word.