#SafeCityPledge - The other faction

I was 8 years old. And the aunt I told was unable to even be accurate about the body part in question. In her conversation with my uncle, she told him that a creep at the grocer's felt up my 'back.'

Because my uncle was a manunko bataatey huay humein sharam aaeygi (it will be embarrassing for me to tell him).

It didn't make sense, the embarrassment, which I reckon was more on my aunt's part than it would have been on his. Nevertheless... wouldn't an adult - that too, a loved one - be inclined to protect me, and all parts of my body?

At least I thought so.

Image source: blanknoise.org
As part of an initiative to combat sexual harassment and violence against women, Blank Noise has launched a 24-hour-long event on Twitter, #SafeCityPledge, where individuals are encouraged to pledge a change that they will henceforth bring about regarding this issue, within the realm of their own expertise.

Scrolling through tweets, as the hashtag began to gain momentum, I couldn't shake off the choice my aunt had made. The social circumstances and gender roles that she was subject to, at the time. The illusion of protecting her womanhood from shame, when she was not really doing the same for me.

It was not out of any lack of love or affection, but a very real, fact-of-the-matter choice that she truly didn't believe to have had.

I am not sure she does, even today.

Forget micro-blogging, this aunt doesn't even have access to a computer. And neither does her daughter. The brutal case of gang-rape in Delhi is something she read in a local daily, who, after which was cautioned against playing outside too late into the evening... unaware entirely of the platform that is bringing together men, women, and children of all ages across the country and overseas, against this issue, in a manner India has never seen before.

I especially love the picture of the woman from Lucknow, dupatta wound tightly around her head, pledging 'humein baahar aane jaane par kisi ki rokk-tokk manzur nahi' (we will not accept anyone else's control on our coming and going outside)!

But truth is that there remains a (humongous) faction of women, young girls, and even younger girls in villages, in small towns, in bigger towns, and in even bigger cities, who have yet to muster up such courage.

Who continue to believe that there is no choice, no platform for their voice. Who keep up silence in the face of unreasonable cultural values, predetermined gender roles, and baseless social norms. Who are, quite simply, oblivious to the global connectedness that the events of December 16th have triggered.

I just don't want us to forget about them, that's all.

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