The last few days, two things have been working on my mind.
The first is in fact something going on in my mind for some time now; – and recurs on and off as I watch my three-year-old baby daughter play; at home or outside – either on the swings, or in the park. She is beautiful. Others tell me as much.
Now that she is three years old, her mother wants her to start going to school.
It seems that children start going to school even earlier than three years. Personally, I’m reluctant to send her to school right now.
She is still a baby. She is not – given her baby mind – particularly compliant with instructions given to her; whether it is regarding prohibition to enter the houses of others or in matters of inter-acting with any stranger.
I tell her mother that no, we can’t send her to school right now and that we should wait for, say, another six months more when she’s old enough to recognise and have greater understanding of the instructions that we give. Then only it would be relatively safe to send her to school.
My wife is sceptical; pointing to so many children that have started going to school even at an earlier age and mentions all kinds of facilities and safeguards that the recognised schools offer on security and proper care.
I am still reluctant. Maybe it is my lawyer’s mind which makes me this extra circumspect.
Or is it just the lawyer’s mind ?
Walking the streets and roads with my pet Labrador in the course of a day, I have often seen situations and cases where it appears that safety of women in India, even in the National Capital Region, is always under threat; particularly so of the more attractive or of the more simple or the weak.
The other thought which comes to my mind and which is related to the first one is not that old.
The social media these days is flooded with respects and tributes being paid to the Indian soldiers martyred in the Pathankot terrorist attack. It makes me wonder whether or to what extent we as a nation are absolute hypocrites.
The war is not just on the frontiers or that involving terrorists.
In fact, a far, far greater, uglier, much more reprehensible and heinous war – a largely uncontested war where the aggressors rule the roost – is taking place in the streets and roads, villages, houses, public places and slums of India. This is where girls – even babies – and women are so numerously and repeatedly molested, raped and harassed to an unimaginable extent.
If we are genuine in paying respects to those fighting the war at the frontier or fighting the war with the terrorists and if we genuinely care about the value of the war that our soldiers fight to secure our lives; why can’t we also fight to secure the mind, the limbs, the life, the very soul of so much of our womankind which is under constant threat and grave risk.
I have personally seen so many – as I said – cases, instances taking place in broad daylight in the vicinity of our apartment complex in the National Capital Region and I found no one coming forward to intervene.
That other day, I found three suspect looking male characters positioning themselves on a small “pulliyah” connecting the service road to the main road – through which the maids working in the apartment complexes often pass through – in a way as to hardly leave any room to avoid body contact. I told these characters to move off and they did.
Then that other day, I found these three or four characters cracking obscene jokes in a very public place in the company of a fruit selling vendor who made cheap remarks when asked about the quality of bananas that he was selling.
I told them to move off and to crack their jokes where womenfolk weren’t moving around. This time it wasn’t easy. There were four or five of them and I was alone. But they moved off.
Similar instances, I repeatedly witness. When I am able to intervene, I do so. Sometimes I’m unable to; – say when men in a passing vehicle throw lewd remarks at some maid walking on the road.
Particularly the poor women. They seem to be so vulnerable and so repeatedly targets of harassment – and god knows what more – that they seem to have become kind of used to it. What a tragedy.
All these persons saying “respect”, “salute” by posting pictures of the soldiers martyred at Pathankot; – have they ever fought the war taking place right next to them in just about every street, village, home, road, locality where women are constantly – particularly poor women and girls – under risk of harassment or more. If they respect the sacrifice of our soldiers, do they have the courage to fight for the honour and safety of our womenfolk? If they had the courage & the gumption to fight this much more reprehensible, much more larger scale, and much more heinous and one-sided war on our women; then assaults on the mind and body of our womenfolk would not have been so rampant and tragic.