The Oath of Silence

I cringe every time a man gets close to me in a public place like the subway.

I recoil from strangers, thinking they have ulterior motives.

I flinch away from the men on trains as I climb onto one, thinking they might make sexual comments.

And, every single day I’m terrified that one day I might not reach home the same way I left.

Honestly, I’ve read a whole lot of dystopian books. They’re all set in the future where everything is regulated and controlled. And, I’ve always sympathized with the hero/heroine of the book when they try to break free from the social cage.

But today, as I read about the growing cases of rapes, murders and crimes in the newspapers I wonder if our society has already become a dystopian one without anyone realizing. I’ve always felt irked about rape. Well, irked when I was younger anyway. But today there’s nothing but fury.

Fury at the way men treat women – like they’re slaves or animals or worse.

Fury at the government’s incapability to do anything about it.

And, fury at just everyone in general. For ignoring it and making a molehill out of a mountain.

What has turned men into such monsters? Is it lack of education? I doubt it; I’ve read cases of educated men raping their colleagues at workplaces. Is it the fact that women are physically weaker than them?

What is it? I can’t seem to find a reason for this heinous act.

When did it become okay for men to just use women? Are women not individuals? Beyond that, are they not human? Everyone has rights. Why aren’t women allowed to use them? Or claim them?

What social bias is this? What rubbish is this about ‘killing a woman when she’s alive’? I mean, is a woman only characterized by her virginity? Once that’s been taken away she’s worthless?

And, what social stigma is this? Shouldn’t it be a stigma to the rapists’ reputation and not the woman’s? Just like the thing I was telling my friend before the newspaper brought it up – call a raped woman a survivor. Not a victim. Degrade the rapist, not her.

I’ve been reading a book; it speaks of a cure for love. I want a cure for the attitude with women.  I want a cure for people; no one should be forced into doing something they don’t like. We speak of equality and feminism and gender discrimination and we use all those sophisticated words. What we need today is a society built on justice. Women are not superior to men, and men are definitely not superior to women.

We’re the same.

After all, then only difference among men and women are the reproductive organs. Men could easily be called women and women men. We all have five senses, two eyes, two ears, one nose and one mouth. Just that society has groomed us into two different species of a race.

I doubt any other species treats their only hope at procreation with such hostility and such disgust. As though they were nothing but scum. I’m pretty  sure in the animal, bird and insect kingdom the females are treated with respect. As much as an animal can give anyway.

But sadly, it seems to be more than the women are getting today.

What happened to those times when India treated her daughters as Goddesses? What, now they’re nothing? Does it take a huge rape case to make headlines and stir people? Can’t we do something before a rape happens and not after?

Can’t we hold campaigns, morchas and other things before? Why after? Is that we’re scared it might finally be striking close to home?

As a teenager, I’ve seen and faced various types of sexual harassment. Every morning as I wait for the train to stop so I can board it I shut my ears to the catcalls and jeers of the men at the women. Every time I enter or exit the subway I have to take care to keep distance from other people, especially men. Who knows what motives they have?

I’m tired of looking over my back every day. I want freedom. Freedom from being leered at, jeered at and looked at like a piece of meat. It’s not what I’m saying. It’s what every woman is saying.

It’s a whisper that is going to get stronger someday. And that will be the day humanity is finally restored.

This is what I hope for.

This is what every woman hopes for.

Till next time,

Nia.

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