We live in a hypocritical society. A society where an actress is lauded for portraying a semi-porn star’s life, a porn star is accepted in mainstream reality television, but girls are told to dress up ‘decently’ to not attract unwanted attention.
When cases of rape and eve teasing increased in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Dinesh Reddy stated that the rise in such incidents was due to women who wear ‘flimsy and fashionable' dresses.
What more! People who are in respectable positions seem to agree – those like Karnataka state minister CC Patil and former head of the department of women studies at Bangalore University KK Seethamma.
While Patil stated that he “personally didn’t favour women wearing provocative clothes and felt they need to be dignified in whatever they wear”, Seethamma felt that women wearing obscene clothes tend to tempt men.
Although when asked by the media later, Patil denied this completely, the fact that society is still involved in moral policing the fairer sex is absolutely shocking.
Several questions can be raised based on the statements made by these people in power.
First, who decides what is obscene? Is there a parameter to know which kind of dressing is obscene? Second, is there any guarantee that when one wears ‘long kurtas and skirts’-as Seethamma puts it, that men won’t get attracted? Third, why moral police the women to dress up properly? Shouldn’t there be stricter laws and harsh punishments for rapists and eve teasers so as to set an example?
Living in Delhi all my life, I have been well aware of the fact the city is unsafe for women. Dear Mr Patil and Ms Seethamma, I can assure you I have never worn any ‘obscene’ or ‘provocative’ clothing to college and yet have had horrible experience on the roads of Delhi. Forget me; take the recent incident that took place in Gurgaon on New Year’s eve. The video clearly shows a bunch of drunk men trying to molest a fully covered woman. The woman who is visibly scared is dressed in a pair of jeans, sweater and a jacket. Err…don’t think that is a very revealing outfit, no?
Why is it that time and again, the only explanation to such cases is that women should take care of themselves and not attract unwanted attention? Believe me sir, no one wants to attract unwanted attention, no one wants to be subjected to lewd comments. In fact women are very conscious of their modesty, they need not be reminded. So please, for a change implement harsher punishments for rapists and eve teasers instead of policing women.
Closer home, Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of Delhi had once provided a brilliant solution for women in the city who felt threatened after dark. She simply told them to stay at home after dark. How about making the city safe for women instead of giving old school jargons to women? So does she suggest working women like me should stay at home after dark even if our work demands us to stay out?
In a civilized society, where women are being told to dress up in less provocative clothes, there should be similar jargons (if any) given to men who are the cause of such incidents in the first place.
We live in the 21st century where women are treated at par with men in every field. By curtailing their movement, their idea of dressing the society at large takes a step back and not a step forward.