Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Slap The Man Who Gropes!

I promulgate safety and precautions during personal revelry. I advocate sanity over recklessness.

That is not to say I do not care about women!

My blood boils then when I see and hear about groping and grabbing and pinching of girls. Not only strangers but even familiar folks do it.

The advice I have given to girls who have been my students (I am a teacher from last two decades) is...

*Do not shrivel in the corner, trembling!

*Do not sigh while cluck clucking over the molestation.

*Do not be all teary eyed at the doom and gloom "Abla naari syndrome"!

Then you shall ask "What shall we do? It is the upbringing to blame of our boys."

Society failed!


Think for a moment about Savitri Bai Phule's plight who was openly condemned, criticised and abused back in the 1800s! She was fighting for a noble cause. Did she have a screeching media at her disposal screaming "Hail women!"

Was Society any better, then?

They did not even consider women humans back then! Did Savitribai even expect anyone to change overnight?

Here is what she did.

She carried right through with what she thought was right!

We are today's women, then.. Lot more supported, educated and equipped!

Let us look into the eye of the perpetrator and holler "No" with all our mights!

Let us teach our girls to be not shrinking violets.

Let us teach them to give right back.

Let us Be the change.

Why be quiet the first time?

Even if a pinch or grab comes in, use your sandals, bags, umbrella or whatever you have and hammer!

Others will join the party!

Ask "What?" instead of retreating into a corner!

Return that stare for a stare instead of "Jaane do?

Let us begin #SlapTheManWhoGropes-  wherever, whenever...Get the Girl power out on the front. Now is the time.

Get up and give back!

Enough you waited for Mindsets to change!

Enough you waited for some system to protect!

Enough you found upbringings at fault!


Let's make it a norm, not an exception.

Use the voice, the weaponry in your arsenal.. More so, throw away the endurance and tolerance.

Why wait?

Start this moment while you stand at the bus stop, railway station, office, park or street while walking home.

Courage is what you draw out and molestation what you annihilate!

Will you?

                                   -Sonnal Pardiwala.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bengaluru Chaos- A Lesson in Personal Responsibility

It was with great shock, I viewed the pictures doing the rounds of media on the mess that was created on the streets of Bengaluru. It was claimed that there were 1500 policemen and yet, many girls were molested!

Media had a field day on pronouncing it as the state's failure.

Police department blamed for its inefficiency.

Debates took place on Facebook, Twitter and outfits working on women issues slammed it as violation of Girl's modesty and infringement of their rights.

Great... It is so fashionable to blame Men and their mindsets.Portray women in victim mode and helpless. So convenient! Nowhere does the blog justify Molestation or condemn women out in public spaces at any hour. She is returning from work, she deserves a dignified passage to home! 
However, we must also look into the mob that created chaos on the streets of Bengaluru. Are women and men alike not "The Citizens"  of country who must uphold the Discipline and Law of the country. 
Time to take few Inclusive thoughts on this.

In battling Misogyny, let us not go creating Misandry.

It was a New Year Eve. People were happy 
and in a mood for frolic. Each wearing what they want. Each choosing the beverage they want. The question is,

"Why were they on the streets?" A stampede could have killed them. 

When we have a wedding, we choose a wedding hall!

When we have a religious ceremony, we have building premises!

Each celebration has a designated place. Why is there a need to get it out on the streets?

A mob is the most insensitive ground that breeds unruly behaviour. Responsibilities distribute. Accountability vanishes. Inhibitions are shed.

Now, why make this a gender inequality issue?

Why blame public servants who are human, ill equipped to deal with huge numbers of people, not in full control of themselves?

Why take this matter into the 'equal rights' debate?

The fact, that girls and boys both were on the streets, means, they were exercising their rights.

A bigger question is, why? To both?
Weren't there enough pubs or establishments to have fun to begin with?
As a woman, I never wear or wore purdah, neither a Burkha nor Ghunghat!

Pepper spray???

I do not know where to buy it.
I do not earn enough to afford a bodyguard. A beer or a whisky, yes!
Martial arts.. I learned out of hobby in my twenties.

But I have not been once molested, if you overlook the pinch and grab on railway stations.

If ever a guy acted smart I used my sandals or my verbal weapons.

Over the years I did realise that "being safe is an option not to be confused with rights."
I have a perfectly fun loving family and we have tons of fun. We however keep to our boundaries. We have chosen places which we have checked for safety and prestige.
One gets confused with an unruly mob and slanting it to equality and gender issues. 

Questions you should ask:

1) What is the correct way to celebrate something? Why Holi does need balloons thrown on streets, Diwali to be strewn with crackers, why New Year on the streets?

2) Does Bengaluru or any other city not have proper building compounds, terraces, hotel premises throwing "New Year Bash" for its citizens to bring in the New Year?

3) What exactly should a policeman do when they will be blamed either for not protecting the girls or bashing up the men?

4) Supposing something barbaric happens, how do you reverse it?

5) When none will protect, we women of India, should we not take kinder measures?

6) Am I modern only if I scream, dance and drink on the streets (regardless of being a male or female)?

7) Even parking slots refuse to take ownership of your car even if you pay parking charges! We install buzzer alarms to alert! Then why sounding some much needed alerts on "personal safety"  looked down upon?

8) Will I receive some protection, if I spew out anti men slogans and scream "women rights", from anyone?

Did what happen in Bengaluru a gender issue or a misplaced sense of fun and revelry?

Are roads made for dancing balls in an inebriated state by anyone or are they convenient means to travel from one place to another?

When you go out on the street, you have an incumbent risk.

You may meet with an accident... So there are footpaths erected, zebra crossings created.

You may slip on the road for it is wet!
Will you then blame the road because it is wet?

Precautions and rights are different things.
I have a right of being on the roads, yes.. I can take the precaution to walk sensibly and not run wild in the face of traffic. 

In the same way, if I know I am slightly tipsy and others are likely to be tipsier than me, it is best I stick to familiar people and familiar environs. Why walk into unfamiliar arenas and expect completely unrelated people, (men ill - mannered and hiding behind mob anonymity)  to show decency? It is the ideal expected but rarely fulfilled.

The fact that foreign beaches do not have molestation reports is not proof enough for various reasons

*Each one of them has culturally learned to mind their own business... Our country is yet to learn this basic ethic.

*Molestation might have happened but the reports have not reached us!

Media loves to sensationalise and create news out of everything.

If I have to teach my offspring something I would go with decency in thoughts and deed, saner philosophy on celebrations and safer strategies of self preservation.

If they must party, why not in a place where security and accountability measures are firmly placed? Street is for walking not partying! 31st night or any other night.

Be safe, walking out on streets drunk only gets you foggy heads the next day, not a Happy New Year!
                                 -SONNAL PARDIWALA