Monday, July 16, 2012

Imma Stop You Right There My Friend

Have a look at this very interesting PSA on women's safety sent out by the Delhi Police via the well-meaning Farhan Akhtar:

For simple folk like me who'd rather not hit 'repeat play' on videos of sexual violence committed in this country (specially since a sizable majority of us have experienced such horrors in varying degrees in our own lives), it's easier to focus on smaller matters.
Like when Farhan makes this case for us: Woman are, by virtue of being daughters, mothers, sisters and wives (but not mistresses, whores or bosses), exempt from being assaulted. 
And as daughters, mothers, sisters and wives (but not mistresses, whores or bosses) women must also take charge of their own safety. 
Because, you know, shit happens.

Watching this ad (during a welcome break from the film 'Cocktail', where the 'broken', alcohol drinking, pre-marital sex having, white-man kissing woman doesn't have a hope in hell of securing a happy ending), riled me up a bit. Well, more than just a bit. More, even, than that disgusting Guwahati video doing the rounds (it's funny how we're uncomfortable listening to a woman talk about being raped or assaulted but we'll have the video of it go viral in 2 days).
Because here's the case I'd have preferred Farhan to make: Woman are, by virtue of being human (and not inanimate objects), exempt from being assaulted.
And as human beings (and not inanimate objects) women must also take charge of their own safety. 
Because, you know, sexual violence is vile and absolutely unacceptable in civilized society.

Deepak points out (I'm guessing with regard to lines like 'Zulm karna ya sehna, dono gunah hai' line): "If I were in your shoes, I'd bring up the point of false equivalence: That perpetrating sexual assault is nowhere the same as being a victim of it."

Also check out this fun, fun, fun anti-street harassment video: Shit Men Say To Men Who Say Shit To Women On The Streets  

Then if you have the time, do read Natasha Badhwar's gut wrenching piece on sexual violence here. It truly struck a chord.

And finally, if you must know, read why Cocktail pissed me off so badly


After nearly a lifetime of experiencing and surviving some very unpleasant instances of sexual harassment & violence, I've come to the conclusion that I want to focus on the little things now: PSAs like the one talked about above, a seemingly innocuous mainstream film, a comment here, a grope there, the gentle banter of 'this happens, yaar' passed along like a frisbee at a picnic - it's here, in the tiny details that I find the seeds of the biggest crimes. To me, it's all connected and I can't just chill out about it. It might make me unfun for a while but you know what's really unfun? Molestation.


  1. When he says, 'Zulm karna ya sehna, dono gunah hai' - I think he means perpetrating or tolerating the crime. Not in the context of 'being' a victim, but *anyone* being a quiet witness.

    1. True. At the same time, you're casting the net of implications pretty wide by not qualifying what 'sehna' or tolerating means. Not reporting a sexual crime is also 'tolerating' in a sense, and that's something many victims feel too unsafe to do.

  2. Thanks. I have been finding this video very uncomfortable but just couldn't pin point why. A well meaning but ultimately condescending and self serving.

  3. I agree - the video might be well-intentioned, but the point it finally makes is that women should not be assaulted because they're mothers, sisters, daughters etc. That just sounds like saying "oh ya, they do so much for us men in these roles, so we should protect them".

    You're completely right - the point should be women are human, and hence, should not be assaulted. Not because they have some 'good roles' to play in our lives. In an extreme case, what if I'm not a mother or a sister, do I not have the right to not be assaulted?