I never knew or never really understood the gravity of the problem . The problem is ” Being a Girl ” , to say in simple words , to be born as a girl in a middle class family that too in a country like India . We are two daughters raised by a disciplinarian father .While growing up I never ever realised the disadvantages . The factors for this case are many , we were raised in two different towns both of them happen to be Tier-2 cities ( as citied by Monty of planning commission of INDIA 🙂 ) , southern part of India is as relatively safe and secure , strict father etc, etc. Despite of all these I never understood the difference between a girl and boy until one day I was forced to travel “Rape capital ” .
Needless to say Delhi , cited as Dil(Heart) of India is always known with its darker side as Rape capital of India. I was at awe , to see a 45-50yr old lady carrying a 4-5 inch knife in her purse , silly me , still I couldn’t understand the underbelly . Okay , now don’t pity on my innocence , i didn’t face eve-teasing in my college , never stalked or never subjected to gandi nazar ( voyeurism) . The real story started when I moved on to stay in “rape capital ” . Still I was never subjected to vices of NOIDA , Lucky me. On one of my weekend outings , I saw a girl walking on the pavement while conversing on her mobile as minutes passed by,,,,,,,,,, a triplet riding on a honda bike shouted some words in a high-pitched voice , unmindful she walked on her own till she reached the junction .while she was waiting for the traffic signals to change , I can’t say whether the same group or another one, dramatically emerged i encircled that girl mean while passing on some comments. She started running away from them and reported the same to the nearby constable ( thankfully he was present there ) the group disappeared. I don’t know the future course of events , neither of the group nor of the girl.
Gradually the sightings of eve-teasing , stalking became a routine affair for me . After so many years of getting used to traditional dressing i.e burqa length top’s and 3mtr wide salwars(bottom pants) , I could never adapt to Jeans-tshirt culture .Although I envied the picture perfect jeans clad girls. While the Dec16, 2013 Nirbhaya case was going on , there were a lot of arguments against the type of dressing and the part it played in igniting the so-called feelings , I would say that it is all trash . The patriarchal system is deep-rooted in our senses. The woman is always portrayed as “abala” ( vulnerable ) or as “item ” .I wont blame the media entirely ,the male member of the family do play a greater role in commodifying girls and their attribute of being vulnerable . I heard many father’s and uncles imbibing the culture of recklessness and neglect for girls , worst even the mother’s aren’t spared in front of their own children( esp. boys ) .
Coming to the workplace affairs , we were introduced to the code of conduct of our company during orientation classes. The one and the only rule which said about harassment was in summary, but not exactly , like this : ” in case if any male employee is convicted ( proving which is difficult) to be misbehaving with the female employees , the person in conflict would be suspended (that’s all,,,,,,) . Five years hence, unless until Nirbhaya case came to limelight , I never knew about the famous Vishaka Guidelines ( to be followed at workplace) were in place, surprised at first but then digested the fact that , ohhh the classes were by a male employee , and the rules were framed by all male members.
I would like to salute ” Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma ” for drafting the famous Vishaka guidelines for women against harassment . I would like to share that these guidelines were framed in case of The Vishakha and others v State of Rajasthan (13th Sep 1997) where Vishakha and other women groups filed Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against State of Rajasthan and Union of India. The petition was filed after Bhanwari Devi, a social worker in Rajasthan was brutally gang raped by feudal lords for stopping a child marriage.Based on these guidelines GOI woke up after widespread protests for the gang rape victim and constituted Verma committee headed by J.S.Verma.Based on their recommendations went on legislate The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“Sexual Harassment Act”) . J.S.Verma as he is fondly known, stood up to wily politicians and inert bureaucracy in many other notable cases like Jain Hawala case , Ayodhya judgement , S.R.Bommai case etc. Of course we lost this noble soul in April 2013 , but on his birthday i.e 17 jan , this is my heartfelt wishes and prayers for the father figure who wished to protect daughters of India through his efforts.
Being an optimist I wish to see this Act is implemented effectively and I dream to tell my granddaughters and grandsons that ” once upona time in a country called India , girls and women were harassed by real life villains”.Atleast I hope so,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Happy birthday J.S.Verma ji .