I wonder why young parents-to-be ever want to have baby girls. Why people don’t want a girl child is fairly obvious by now in our country, what with the extreme sexism and female foeticide. But really, would you want to bring a girl into this world, who will then turn into a woman, and thus the sexual object of desire for many? Hundreds and thousands of lustful eyes following her, trailing down her body, stopping about eight inches below where they should. The occasional bump, the intentional elbow, the malicious grab. If you live in India, pray tell me, why would you want to bring another woman into this disgustingly filthy world?
I must have been 10 or 11 when I first got the ‘unintentional squeeze’. Unfortunately, it was from someone known and trusted. Since then, the count has become innumerable—both from those trusted and the unknown. Seven years ago when I moved to Bombay, all alone, knowing not a soul, I was told by many that I could roam around the city in a tank top and shorts, and no one would even give me a second glance. I took that comment with a bucketful of salt, and thank God I did.
Still, I did feel more at ease in Bombay where many other girls dressed like me. When I say dressed like me, don’t let your imagination run away with you; I mean in jeans, well-fitted (not necessary tight-to-the-point-of-exploding) t-shirts, skirts, etc. I could travel alone till about 1am and feel like I would reach home without being molested, raped or killed.
How things have changed. Today, even if I step out of my house at 11am, I wonder whether I’ll come home alright. And even if I come home, will there be someone already there, waiting for me? God forbid I travel late at night alone—I am, of course digging my own grave.
At 26, I am decently proud of myself. I am fairly settled, financially independent, with a good job and great sets of friends in the city. Yet, every day I live in fear. Yet, every night I wonder what I will have to tolerate tomorrow, who I will have to yell at. Will the girl in the news be me next time? And believe me, no matter how many friends, boyfriends, etc., you have, you’re on your own on this one.
No man—not my father, not my protective guy friends, not my boyfriend, not my husband (whoever that may be)—will ever understand the pain and fear that goes into being a woman, every single day. They will look out for me, and try to protect me, but after a point, they will tell me that there is no point in over-stressing and that whatever is meant to happen, will. They will never understand the disgust and frustration and helplessness I feel when someone grabs my breast or my crotch, or leers at them, or tries to take a picture of me. For all of this, I am alone.Single in the city may sound fun and cool, but many times, it’s far from that.
Last October, two boys were killed for trying to protect their female friends from the lewd gestures and unwanted advances of a hooligan. A few days ago, a girl was brutally murdered in the comfort and so-called security of her home for trying to resist being raped. And let’s not start on the number of rape cases. It’ll take all day and then some.
In each of these cases, all I can think of is, what if that was me? These incidents are simply too close to home. And when I tell my friends or those close to me, they will nod sympathetically for a while, give me an understanding hug and then carry on with their lives—even at the risk of putting me or some other woman in danger, unintentionally, of course. It’s always, ‘going out just for a few minutes’, ‘you’ll be alone just for tonight’, or ‘dropping you home is too out of the way’. Well, one man’s convenience is another’s lust fulfilled.
I pray every night, thanking God for everything He has given me, and to keep the blessings coming. And in the same breath, I beg Him to keep me and those around me safe and healthy. And I beg for Him to stop these atrocities. Because, thanks to the internet, I always put a face and life to the person killed. And then I can’t get her out of my mind. Because I think, how much pain, what fear she must have felt to die alone. What if...
No, I don’t think I want to have a baby girl anymore. I’d rather have a baby boy, who I will raise to protect the women, no matter what, and not maul them like the rest of the male race. No, I don’t want to bring another girl into this world, into this country, to be disrespected and tortured. No, I really don’t want to.