BY ISHITA ROY
“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” This is a line from Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech Tryst with Destiny, delivered on the eve of India’s Independence on August 14, 1947.
This year will mark the 75th year of India’s Independence. 75 years of India becoming free at the midnight hour. While the Indian women remain behind the curtains and scared to step out when the clock even hits 8pm.
“When 14-year-olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect. Just because children don’t listen, we cannot put the responsibility on the government and police.”
This is a statement by Goa’s Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant. The statement came in the background of the rape case of 2 minors on Goa beach, for which, the CM blamed the girls for being out so late.
So, what does it really mean to be a woman in Independent India?
Yes, we do have equal rights guaranteed by the constitution. But when the office bearers, who take oath to “bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,” do not believe in those rights, then why would anyone else?
Law on paper does not equal to Law in practice.
The incident of Goa is just one of the many cases of how institutionalized sexism and misogyny are in the Indian system.
Despite 75 years of Independence, women still live in the fear of getting groped, sexually assaulted, raped as they step out. The agony does not end here. Raising voices against such evils leads to victim shaming.
And oh, did I mention the #NotAllMen?
Women are still kept from being themselves and are expected to act by patriarchal norms. And dare they raise their voices, because shhh…not all men.
Yes. Not All Men Rape Women. Not All Men are sexual Predators. Some men just let it happen and stay quiet. Some men just do not use their agencies and privileges to raise their voice. Some men just let it slide.
Yes. Not All Men. But men still ask their sisters, daughters, wives, etc. to not wear “revealing clothes” to ensure their safety. I mean who are we kidding, right? When we step out, our biggest threat is other women and not the men. Because c’mon! Not All Men!
But I should keep quiet. Because how dare I talk about real issues? But here I am, still writing. Because what I feel is real and many women in India feel the same way.
Independence is not “allowing” your daughter, sister, wife, girlfriend, etc. to wear the clothes they want or even follow their own dreams. Because when you “allow” someone to do something, you put yourself in an authoritative and superior position. And that my friends, is not what independence is about!
Independence Day is not just about the flag hoisting, but also about respecting what the flag represents- equality! It is about respecting the constitution by practicing the law. It is about making sure every single person is free to live a life of their choice. And yes, it applies to women too!