We’ve heard this before, and we will hear it again. The onus of staying safe falls squarely on the women. And really, we’re getting a bit tired of this.
In yet another such example the vice-chancellor of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) in Lucknow has told the women staff to leave work by 6 pm. And no, it’s not for any work-life-balance reason (you wish) – it’s because that’s his answer to the security issue for women. The logic? That since “the university is situated on the outskirts of the city”, it’s best that the women play it safe.
So, any comments on steps being taken to instil law and order? You can guess the answer. The spokesperson said that, “in recent times, there have been a number of untoward incidents, and it is to avoid such episodes that the vice-chancellor has asked women employees not to stay in office beyond 6 pm.” That’s pretty much it. So, essentially what they women are being told is – leave early, or else you’ll face danger and we can’t really do much about it.
When will the authorities understand that women’s safety is not about how, when or where a woman goes? It’s about swift punitive action, it’s about law and order, it’s about sending a strong message to the people who are violent with women – it’s NOT about clamping down on women’s freedom – be it where they go or what they wear.
How many more women will be molested, raped or killed before the authorities understand that this is a pressing problem? On the one hand is all the rhetoric about beti parao beti bahao – then you tell the (educated) beti – that actually, now do as you’re told, you may be educated and all the good stuff, but don’t go where you want, leave work early, don’t wear certain clothes and if something does happen to you, don’t complain because we told you so.
Is this how India will move into the future, riding on the back of parochial mindsets about women? Something tells us, the answer is in the affirmative