In a hot perspiring day, two rag-picking urchins were feasting their eyes on a cinema poster, pasted on the wall, stained by human urine. On the poster, a half clad women’s photo in the pose of disrobing before a man fastened the attention of both the boys as they looked on without blinking their eyes. The inscription on the poster went as follows-“see Savitri- the sex bomb from south in hot action”.
One might be taken aback that how sex can be a bomb in India!
A foreigner in India was casting glances on the monthly English magazine in India and was surprised to read a coinage of words, that he hardly understood.
This time the writing in magazine described an actress in India as “sex-siren”.
Well, these siren and bomb were the epithets given to a woman for her sex appeal.
In the eighties there was violence in the campus of a college if a girl was called sexy. The sentiments of the girls were offended while in a class, when the professor began writing something on the blackboard but the board was full previously with indiscreet suggestions in writing from boys that such and such girls were really sexy. The girls went crying to their homes and complained to their protecting parents at home or brothers in senior classes for which there would be fisticuffs within the groups inside the campus.
In India where the society is very orthodox, the smile of a girl carries the interpretation that she is in love with the human, whom she threw her smile like the cupid’s arrow. The word ‘sex’ evoked a bitter response of dejection and rejection. Highest number of sexual harassment existed in the seventies and eighties in the campuses of colleges and universities and inside the families as well. The sex-starved depraved unfair sex fought hard to find relief by any method. There were heart breaking instances of rape and murder of a teenaged girl by her own father in New Delhi. A girl was targeted sexually inside her family and everywhere she went. A woman working in an office had to go through ordeals of sexual harassment from the authorities.
The worst began happening when a girl got married. On the fourth day of her marriage, usually called Suhhag raat meaning her first nuptial night, the bride had to undergo the ordeal of appeasing her man’s libido. Prior to this her husband’s relatives and invited guests on the occasion made an oral analysis of the each limb of her body. Usually the subject of their discussion was how beautiful a particular limb of her body was. If one among the womenfolk opined that her nose was beautiful the other simply turned it down by simply terming it as ugly. The invited men and women did cast their glances at the articles shat she had brought as dowries. Any unfavorable comment from the invitees sparked off violent responses from her in-laws.
She had to fight for a survival on two counts: the number one was she had to appease her male’s sexual fantasies on the bed –else she could face the wrath of her man. The second was she had to consistently bear the violence from her in-laws in her husband’s family for the articles in dowries that she had brought in the marriage. The articles ranged from two-wheeler to refrigerators (read A to Z for running a household) and cash.
In the nineties, a young woman was repeatedly physically and mentally tortured by her husband and in-laws. She was taken to a mental asylum and given electric shocks under the pretext that she was insane and behaved abnormally. Finally she was shunted out of her husband’s house and went to her father’s house. A married woman in her parents’ house is the most unwelcome guest in India and she had also trouble in adjusting her life in her father’s household. While applying for a divorce and alimony from her bureaucrat hubby, one highest authority in the legal echelon took notice of her and targeted her sexually. He called her under the pretext of dinner to his house and there he attempted molesting her. She received threats from many people when she filed a complaint in the police station against the top-notched official in the court. But while she refused to cow down under unethical pressure, she was dragged out of her car in one night by the goons and gang raped in the presence of a scribe, who was accompanying her in the car.
From time to time the Indian government had to do face saving as it was charged internationally for the prejudice towards fair-sex in the society. The government at first brought the sex-education to the curriculum of studies in the school and colleges.
What was sex education?
It was an assortment of completely bogus things. Part of it was concerned with the male and female physiology and the idea inoculated that the female’s body was not fit for copulation before the age of eighteen.
In the nineties the media brought out articles containing information for the female school goers that what ought to be done in case of attempts of sexual exploitation.
But what did all this mean? Finally it zeroed on nothing. Such education was inadequate for the protection of women from sexual exploitation. It went on increasing as before even at times on a larger scale.
Slowly and gradually there were harsher laws. Rapists were punished with sentences of ten year imprisonment. Law-makers brought out provisions of imprisonment up to one year rigorous imprisonment if the in-laws of the woman tried tormenting her in marriage.
As of now, after years of suppression and torture on women, finally the society seems to be catching up with a wind of liberty towards them. But the new space for liberty only appears in the shape of new laws.
Can legal punishment redeem feminism from the worst plights of being targeted sexually?
What has created the chasm between men and women? It is the fact that India lost it’s independence to the invasions from outsiders for hundreds of years. It ceased to survive as a sovereign state for a long time. Although in ancient India women played a very procreative role in each sphere of life, gradually they were subjugated to a life of seclusion and subservience and thereby feminism failed to be successful counterpart of masculinity. It is a docile psychology only that they preferred to don without a fight for its own distinction for survival. Humble acceptance of draconian puritanical laws by the orthodox male bastion led to the downfall of women from their lofty position. Regrettably a larger portion of Indian women today still believe in subjugating to horrible things that the society forces upon them and as a result it creates suffering.
BDA Colony, Kapila Prasad,