Why don’t I feel safe in this country?

Women’s Safety in India: When I was a teenager my mom always told me to avoid tights and wear loose clothing that didn’t reveal my body shape. As a daughter-in-law, I was forced to follow customs and traditions without reasoning with them. I have never felt safe at home or outside. Why does the responsibility for safety always lie with women, why can’t we create safe and empowering spaces for women?

Going out in tight dresses was an embarrassment and I felt very strange when a stranger gave me a nasty comment in front of my parents. I also felt very unsafe going out at night after dark. The cities I spent my childhood in weren’t safe for girls, but the people who lived there were quite used to this kind of life.

Safety has been a major concern for Indian women for many years. Women feel unsafe not only outside but also inside their home. A few places in India have such horrendous conditions where women feel intimidated to even step out of their homes when it is dark.

As a teenager, I remembered bad memories when I left my house without anyone. I would be so conscious of what to wear and what not to wear, because wearing flashy and revealing dresses sent chills down my spine. And instead of liking to wear trendy clothes, I dressed in some sort of understated outfit. I would feel so bad if I went out in tight clothes because there would be a skirt hunter lurking somewhere in the dark staring at me and making raunchy comments.

These incidents are common in small, remote and remote places in our country. Even big cities are not safe for women either.

We often urge the little girl not to go out on your own to unfamiliar places. But is the little girl completely safe at home? Sometimes a little girl is abused at home or in the neighborhood. The same applies to women who are exploited or abused after marriage, but they endure it in silence. As a child, I came across many stories about how daughters-in-law were kept on a leash at home and carried out many responsibilities. They were tortured and their parents were ruthlessly mistreated for not giving enough dowry.

Tanu Priya

After my marriage, I also faced my share of challenges. I was supposed to transform myself completely, somehow, it didn’t seem reasonable to me. I always had very rational thoughts and a scientific temperament, but I was forced to believe in the superstitions and other rituals that were part of the family I was married to. I had to follow them unconditionally. I was supposed to wear a sari with pallu on my head no matter how uncomfortable I felt. I had had difficulty doing all of this because my upbringing was completely different where I was supposed to play sports, be good at studying and not behave like a typical girl. Sometimes I felt quite uncomfortable with my in-laws and felt suffocated because they weren’t ready to listen to my opinions. According to them, a good daughter-in-law should not be opinionated.

I was supposed to wear a sari with pallu on my head no matter how uncomfortable I felt.

Such unfair and rude treatment of daughters-in-law gives rise to cases of domestic violence in the home. We all know how cases of domestic violence increased by leaps and bounds during the coronavirus-induced pandemic. Since a mandatory lockdown was imposed in the country, NCW data shows that crime against women has increased during this period; this was more than the number of crimes reported by women over the past ten years. There is some evidence that the crime rate against women increased by about 131% in May of last year. Ironically, India is one of the most dangerous places in the world for women. Despite the legal framework in place, we are unable to control crime against women.

If we explore the reasons for these criminal and discriminatory practices that make the home and the outdoors unsafe for women, we will find that from childhood a girl and a boy are treated differently. Girls are not as exposed as boys and are always frowned upon by others for taking risks in life. They are raised so that they can take care of the home and family in the future, and the boys do not learn any housework. They are encouraged to be tough, to express themselves, to express themselves and to take risks in life. As a result, they become very bold and confident.

Unless there is a change of mind, the situation for girls will remain the same. Therefore, slow and consistent change to empower women and make our country a safer place for them is essential.

The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Mara R. Wilmoth