What I Was Taught In The Name Of Safety

What I Was Taught In The Name Of Safety

“Akeli ladki khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai”- I’ve literally grown up getting bombarded with this line from all corners just like most other girls in India. To survive in a society where the length of your skirt decides the grades you get in your character certificate hasn’t been a cakewalk. From getting a heavy dosage of instructions about how to act ‘like a girl’ to being forced to mug up a long list of do’s and don’ts, we’ve faced it all, so have I. Puberty opens up a rulebook before us and we’re expected to follow it like Bible. My story was no different.

Every time my parents would roll their eyes upon a piece of news regarding the burning crime in society or a trending rape case would come their way, a new rule was added to my life.

But was keeping me behind the bars enough to ensure that I was safe and sound? Was all that what I was taught in the name of my safety enough to let me breathe fearlessly?

A girl’s safety is inversely proportional to the number of hours she spends outside the simplest logic put forward by my parents if I would ever try to convince them for letting me go out with my friends. When the country was being shaken by a new rape case coming in the limelight every next day, my parents’ only matter of concern was to ensure that I get home back before 7. I didn’t oppose, rebel or made a hue & cry about the deadline because the feeling of ease I could see on my parents’ faces this way was far more important than my freedom.

“Darkness would make you feel unsafe”-my parents said, but did I feel safe in the light? No! “Being alone would make you feel unsafe”-they said, but do girls my age feel secured in the crowd? No! “Westernization would provoke criminals”-everybody said, but did those nasty comments, dirty looks and cheap eve teasing tricks cease when I was draped in a saree, No!

“A girl’s safety is in her own hands” – a universal statement nobody denies to agree with, then why are we advised to keep mum and silently ignore the Roadside Romeos addressing us with slangs like ‘maal’, ‘item’, ‘totta’, and so on? Shouldn’t we return the favor by shutting them up? Aren’t the passers-by expected to take a stand with us just like they would do for their own daughters and sisters and don’t simply move on without giving a damn? My will to learn self-defense techniques was suppressed fearing it would hamper my femininity. Instead, I was instructed to take my father or brother with me wherever I go. A masculine figure may keep perverts away for a while but isn’t it better to be your own savior? Crime against girls is not confined within rape, acid attacks only and the world outside home is not the only place where assaults happen.

Salwar kameez is not the ultimate answer to our problems and not all male family members make us feel safe in their presence.

I was taught numerous methods about how to prevent a crime but wasn’t taught even one about how to fight against the crime. “Prevention is better than cure”, I totally agree, but shrugging your shoulders and ignoring crime is just a temporary solution that lets it flourish in the long run. To tackle it and get it uprooted is the best way to protect yourself. I am not saying that what all I was taught in the name of safety was entirely incorrect but it wasn’t sufficient for sure.

Restricting a girl’s movement and holding her back from opening up to the world might be justified up to some extent but is not enough to ensure her safety.

I understand why every parent teach their daughters to be in her limits but the world would be a much safer place to live if they teach them how to make others learn to stay in their limits.


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