Disclaimer: This article contains topics that might be triggering to some readers.
I’m always surprised by people’s constant obsession with “protecting women”. Women don’t need protection. And the fact that women don’t get to act like ‘saviours’, isn’t because we’re incapable. It’s because men aren’t mostly exposed to the same unsafe environment as we are. This also doesn’t mean that men are safe all over…it’s just comparatively, it’s much worse for women. Of course, this isn’t the first time someone said this. But we can’t stop stressing on it, until things change. And have they?
Also, this idea of ‘keeping women safe’ indirectly means restricting THEM, not the people who make it unsafe for us. So we don’t have the privilege to roam around the city at night, or try exploring jobs which have late-night shifts. Even something as simple as going to a movie or a concert at night, feels like a luxury. Hell, it’s not even safe for us on a bright summer afternoon. So, we hardly get to live life, and on some lucky days when we finally get the “permission” and courage to do that, we have to stay prepared for the worst. This means that getting to relax is also a luxury. And well, that’s no way to live.
So we’re either forced to stay inside, by society and our families. Or we get the ‘privilege’ to choose, and are indirectly made to sit at home, because the world is cruel, and anything could happen. How does that sound?
Basically, home is the supposed safe space. And one would think that that’s where we can actually be ourselves, without having to worry about “what might happen”. But that’s not the case, and you’re mistaken if you think so. A recent study by KEM Hospital’s forensic department states that gender-based violence was responsible for around 21% of women’s deaths due to unnatural causes in Mumbai. Yes, crimes directed on women based on their gender. It was also noted that 47% of these women died by suicide, 47% were accidents, while 6% were cases of homicides by intimate partners/relatives. And around 99% of these deaths occurred at home or in private spaces.
So, is home really the safe space that we boast it is? Or is it much worse, because women THINK that they’re safe here?
So, if women clearly aren’t safe anywhere and are still being forced to stay ‘inside’, what does that really mean? To me, it clearly sounds that it’s not the obsession with safety, but an obsession with power. Our society has always admired it when it gets to tell women what to do. And to get to treat them terribly is an additional ego-boost. Don’t get me wrong, it’s inhumane, but it’s also the truth.
Murder, marital rape, domestic violence and mental abuse are just some of the many crimes that so many households put women through. And while some of them are convicted, others are too “minimal” to be labelled as crimes. Let’s just face it, we’ve all seen families tell their daughters to bear with the in-laws, when they’re too torturous to live with. But what more can we expect from a society that still debates about martial rape? Everything’s about ‘pati aur sasural ka haq’ here. So, we’re deprived of choices and basic human rights. And you’re telling me THIS is to keep us safe?
Home isn’t safe if you can’t just be. And it’s surely not safe if it’s also home to criminals, who aren’t even seen as that.
And we shouldn’t even have to seek permission or be deprived of the basic right of going out, because some men are too terrible. But that’s literally another discussion. At this point, it’s about women’s safety at home. We hardly even get to raise our voices about something morally wrong, without being called ‘chalak‘ and things like that. How can expect to take a stand and be taken seriously, if something as harsh as abuse, or literal killing takes place? So, please do not tell me that it’s about safety. It’s not. It’s all about treating women as second-class citizens who will have to fight for basic treatment that men are served on a platter.
The fact that we’ve to constantly stress on it, or ask for it, is just terrible. Because as much as the world thinks that women and feminists love to fight, we don’t. We do not enjoy constantly begging for equal treatment, specifically when it’s related to our safety. And no, it’s not even a rant. Because if the roles were reversed (not that, that’s what we’re asking for), the world would surely take men seriously. Of course, we’re angry, all day, every day.
Also, if so many people are messiahs here, how’s crime still existing? If every household is telling women to stay at home, to stay safe, why do we still see such headlines on a daily basis. It literally takes two keywords here – woman, killed. And they do not even describe more than half of the crimes here, but we still come across so many news stories, that are published hours apart.
And the worst part is, not all households are completely unsafe, but that’s glorified. As if keeping a woman’s home a safe space for her, deserves some sort of applaud. We’re treating the bare minimum as an act that requires glorification – shows standards, no? Before talking about how unsafe it is for us to go out, commute in public transport, and just live life, let’s just talk about how is it at home.
Even women who feel the safest at home, would agree that there are still people around them who blame the victim. The Shraddha Walkar case is one example. We had so many people who talked about the woman’s mistake of being in a live-in relationship. Hearing that, knowing such opinions and being surrounded by them, does that feel safe?
Apparently being a woman also means that you’ll never witness the luxury of just being, or making mistakes. And yes, I’m calling it a luxury, because it’s literally treated as some sort of ‘luck’ if a woman finds a home that does the bare minimum of treating her as human. Prevention and protection aren’t measures that a society like ours need. It needs better values, that do more than just blame women.