We have all read the news today, and are all experiencing the same feelings yet again: shock, revulsion, fury and déjà vu. A 23-year-old woman was raped at Shakti Mills compound in Mumbai. No, she was not wearing a short dress. It was not late at night. She was not alone. She was an intern working for a lifestyle magazine and was out doing an assignment with a male companion. And every girl is asking the same tiring, grueling, exasperated question: what does a woman have to do to feel secure in this country?
As an aspiring journalist, I am exhausted of feeling that it could have been me. It could have been any of us. The incident has dashed all the supposed notions of Mumbai being a safe city to the ground. Every woman working in the capital feels scared today. Going out, no matter what time of the day is an extremely strenuous task because we always have to look back over our shoulders. We have to carry pepper sprays, or learn self-defence or always be body-guarded by male companions, and yet we can never feel fully safe.
In a recent CNN report RoseChasm, a student who shared her experience of studying in India, talks about how dangerous a place India is for women. “There was no way to prepare for the eyes, the eyes that every day stared with such entitlement at my body, with no change of expression whether I met their gaze or not,” she writes. Women every day are letched at, groped, molested, masturbated at and raped. But probably the biggest problem is our own apathy.
Yes, we follow the drill. We read articles, we share them over Facebook, we express our disgust over Twitter, we even take part in protest marches. We shudder for our own safety, and at the most we write about it. Can we do anything more to bring about an actual change? And worse, will our collective efforts bring about a change at all? The answer is most likely a no, because even after rallies and protests and brutal acts of shame that recently took place in our country, yet another girl was raped in one of our purportedly safer cities.
Why can’t our leaders, our policemen, our thinkers, our decision makers take steps to curb this monster that is gnawing at our lives every day? Why can’t there be more police security on the roads instead of shadowing politicians? The most immediate action is laws so harsh that men dare not even stare at another girl on the streets again. It is sad that it takes inhuman incidents such as this one to shake us out of our reveries and make us think. And while all this is happening, people seem to be more concerned about the fact that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the next Man of Steel. Apathy one, humanity zero.
Our country has failed us yet again. Our men have failed us yet again. And while we hang our heads in shame, somewhere another gangrape is waiting to happen.