Jeans and mini-skirts

Yet another politician has come out and said that women bring the rape on themselves by dressing provocatively. While crime against women is something that happens all over the world, in India we seem to excel in this one area. From the moment she is a foetus, we find varied ways of hurting her. If she is born, she is seen and treated as a burden. Even among the educated and more liberal, stories of the girl child getting the short-end of the stick abound. Once she comes of age, she is constantly made ashamed of her body and her feelings until she begins to associate guilt with every little pleasure. Then she is married off and the abuse continues as she plays second fiddle to her husband and his family. It is strange, almost unfathomable to me, that more women don’t see death as a final release. I guess it talks of their strength and resilience.

Let’s leave the arguments about women being the cradle of civilization and how humankind cannot exist without women. Can’t women expect the same rights as men just on the basis of bring living beings?

But I digress and let us take the argument about women dressing to be raped.

If I leave my house unlocked and someone walks in and picks up something, it is still considered robbery and is punishable. Even is the robber is someone I invited into my house, it is still robbery and nobody blames me for having invited me in. In fact, the robber is seen as having broken the trust I placed in him.

The politicians, police department and the moral police are quick to blame the woman for discarding Indian culture in favour of Western ones. This reasoning is flawed in two very basic respects.

Firstly, how far back in our “culture” do these people want our women to go back? Because no matter how far back you go, women have always been abused. The wonderful culture that is referred to over here consisted of harems, temple courtesans and sati. The crimes of those days cannot be ascribed to the jeans and mini-skirts. Women in those days wore traditional garb.

The second aspect is the implication that someone how Western culture and Western women are immoral and loose.

When we start using the woman’s dress as a cover for our ineptness in curbing crimes against women, it only shows callousness and shallowness.

A woman’s body belongs her and she should be free to do with is as she pleases. If she wants to wear the saree, it should be her right to do so. The same with jeans, skirts, bikinis or salwar-khameez.


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