Ask a woman in India if she's ever been sexually harassed, and most of them would have the same answer: multiple times. Getting catcalled, groped or molested has become so normalised in our culture, that women themselves have been internalised to downplay it. And when we actually muster up the courage to open up about an incident or report it, we're bombarded with an absurd list of questions. What were you wearing? Who were you with? Did you say anything to provoke the perpetrator? Were you out late? Do your parents know?
Welcome to victim shaming 101. And no woman is spared. Recently, singer Sona Mohapatra opened up about her own experience of sexual harassment, that was accompanied with a side of victim shaming. She opened up about the incident on Twitter, which happened when she was studying in college. Sona recalled her seniors making lewd remarks about her body, and then someone with seemingly 'good intentions' asked her why she didn't cover her breasts 'properly' with a dupatta.
She wrote, "During my BTech Engg, walking to the microprocessor lab in a loose khadi green kurta with a salwar. Seniors whistling, speculating loudly about my bra size. One ‘well wisher’ walked up & asked why I wasn’t wearing my dupatta ‘properly’, fully covering my ‘boobs’. #INeverAskForIt"
During my BTech Engg, walking to the microprocessor lab in a loose khadi green kurta with a salwar.Seniors whistling, speculating loudly about my bra size. One ‘well wisher’ walked up & asked why I wasn’t wearing my dupatta ‘properly’, fully covering my ‘boobs’. #INeverAskForIt— Sona Mohapatra (@sonamohapatra) November 23, 2020
Of course, if a woman is being harassed, the first thing you should do is ask her what SHE did wrong, right? *facepalm* This is why rape culture thrives in India. We let men get away with harassment, brushing it off as 'boys will be boys', and we over-scrutinize and blame women.
In an effort to raise awareness about the issue of victim shaming, Sona has called for Twitter users to share their own story of harassment, asking them to recall what they were wearing when it happened. The singer has previously been very vocal about the #MeToo movement in India as well.
Tweet what you remember wearing when you experienced sexual violence, threat or intimidation.— Sona Mohapatra (@sonamohapatra) November 23, 2020
Draw attention to victim blame.
I’m tagging @lydiabuthello @sonamakapoor @MadhumitaM1 @Chinmayi @MasalaBai @TheRestlessQuil #INeverAskForIt https://t.co/dJsmgdFjgV
Sona has asked women to use the hashtag #INeverAskForIt while sharing their stories on Twitter.
Kudos to Sona for her efforts to bring society's misogyny to light. It's 2020--let's shift the focus from "what was she wearing?" to "why did he harass her?". Period.
Featured Image: Instagram