There are things that we do every day because we worry. About being out by ourselves. About being safe. This is the sad and sorry truth of our lives: every Indian woman - no matter where she is from, what she does, or whom she lives with - worries about being raped, assaulted or harassed. We keep hoping and praying that things are going to change, but they don’t. After the horrific 16 December 2012 gang rape in Delhi, many of us vowed never to use public transport after dark - it’s better to spend more money and take a taxi rather than risk our safety, we thought. But today, two years down the line, after the Uber cab rape, we are vowing to not take taxis alone at night either. The safety of women, it seems, can only be guaranteed by our never leaving the house at all!
This pervasive fear that every Indian woman feels every day - it is exhausting. So we decided to speak to a few women and ask them how they deal with their fear of never being safe. This is what they had to say...
1. “I always carry a sharp object or safety pin in my bag, especially when travelling by bus. Someone or the other will always try to pinch you or grab your bum. It’s disgusting.” - Student, 22, in a relationship, lives with her parents
2. “In general I simply avoid particularly revealing clothes and short dresses. I’d pick safety over style any day.” - College student, 20, single, lives in a PG
3. “On late work days I sometimes end up wondering whether I should ask a male colleague to drop me home, but then I also wonder whether I know him well enough to trust him.” - IT professional, in a relationship, lives with her partner
4. “I always drop my maid back home if she ends up working late into the evening.” - Novelist, 65, widowed, lives alone
5. “I haven’t left my house without pepper spray in the last four years.” - Stay-at-home mom, 30, married, lives with her husband, in-laws and children
6. “I walk with my house keys in my hand. If someone comes at me, I can scratch him.” - Waitress, 25, single, shares an apartment with co-workers
7. “I always wrap a stole around myself, even if I’m travelling in my own car or am going out with a group of people.” - Entrepreneur, 29, married, lives with her husband
8. “I don’t go to parties that are being hosted more than 30 minutes away from my house.” - Lawyer, 29, single, lives alone
9. “I’ve postponed a girls’-only vacation I’ve been planning with my friends for the third year in a row now. I’m not sure I’ll ever go on it.” - Student, 25, in a relationship, lives with her parents
10. “I only take delivery of supplies when I have guests over. I don’t want the shopkeepers figuring out that I live alone.” - Editor, 30, single, lives alone
11. “My flatmate and I once left a leaky tap alone for the whole working week because we wanted to make sure the plumber came to the house only when we would both be around on the weekend.” - College lecturer, 32, single, shares a flat with another woman
12. “My son drops me on his bicycle to the house I clean at 7 a.m. every winter. It’s dark, I can’t walk alone.” - Domestic worker, 35, married, lives with her husband and children
13. “My fiance and I decided to not move in together before the wedding, even though are families were okay with it. I was worried that neighbours and staff would think that an unmarried woman living with a man would think was ‘fair game’.” - Designer, 31, in a relationship, lives with her parents
14. “I’m a nervous wreck every time I travel to another city on work and have to depend on a rental car for getting to my appointments.” - Journalist, 35, in a relationship, lives with friends
15. “I only take cabs from this one local taxi stand I trust. They know me, my neighbours know them… And still I worry about what if something happens.” - Model, 26, single, lives alone
16. “I just don’t go out in the evenings unless it’s a wedding or something, and I can’t miss it. Even then, I get relatives or a group of friends to pick me up and drop me back. I leave the lights on when I’m out so that no one can be sure that the house is empty.” - Marketing professional, 43, single, lives alone
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