Of Safety in India and Abroad

I’ve been seeing this story / blogpost shared on FB which describes the life of a girl in India and how she faces harassment at different stages of her life. The post goes on to describe her relief at being abroad, and how she breaks down when she realizes she has to move back to India with her baby daughter. Somehow, I cannot read this and agree that I feel safer just because I’m not in India (and this is coming from someone who spent 4 years in the NCR, widely known as the most unsafe place for women).

There are parts of town I wouldn’t venture to by myself even in the US, and there are transit systems I wouldn’t take (my relatives in Chicago just told me not to take public transport here at night). A friend of mine was approached by a guy who said “Will you give me a hug?” at a bus stop at 10AM – none of the bystanders batted an eyelid when she said no, and when he kept hanging around waiting for her to change her mind. A guy who kept repeating “Why won’t you look at me, beautiful?” followed me from the exit at a BART station till I got into a waiting car just outside. The guy who slyly stares at me on the BART and then quietly moves away when I glare at him. Maybe these are all harmless incidents, maybe not, but the point I am trying to make is that all this media hype makes me feel as though people truly believe India is the most unsafe country for a woman (and that isn’t true). Which is why I feel like this article is a far more balanced view on the subject.

Yes, we need to protest about ensuring that molesters and rapists don’t go away scot-free. But we should also acknowledge that the root cause of the issue lies in societal structures, as she rightly points out. And so I’d like to ask the people who write these maudlin posts whether they truly believe that they are safer abroad (and if so, what do they say when they read about what happened to this poor guy?) or whether they’d just like to believe that. More importantly, maybe it’s time we examined the issue of blaming the victim, and tried to address the root causes instead.


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