I have spoken facetiously about things that scare me about India, but have never talked about my actual fears. I was reading an article in the Times of India this Sunday about rape, and rape statistics in India which made me assess my own situation here. I have realized that if I am hurt in India, I will most likely be sexually assaulted. If I am sexually assaulted, it will most probably be by a well to do, educated Indian male who is either an acquaintance or a friend of a friend who I have made angry/wants to punish me for being..me. The most tragic thing is that I have a feeling most people (possibly even my own family) will think that I brought it upon myself, and I will be left humiliated, shunned, and alone- without a justice system in place to make sure that the perpetrators will never commit the crime again.
People say that big cities are unsafe- and I agree, but not for the reasons people think. Logically speaking, people at lower socioeconomicl levels (i.e. auto drivers, taxi drivers etc…) have more to lose if they take advantage of someone like me. I have friends and family who will raise hell, the media will eat it up, and I am pretty convinced justice will be served. If they wanted to sexually assault a female, they have access to people who…don’t have the power to make it more difficult. Its a harsh thing to say, but I believe its somewhere in the realm of the truth.
The thing that scares me most about big cities is the well to do, educated males population who have insecurities to hide. This segment of the population has been forced to accept the ever growing role of women in a historically male sphere in a very short amount. For many men, it’s fine. But for the select few that begrudge women for infringing on their space, they are ticking time bombs who have no outlet to express their aggression. The other thing about me is that I tend to express my feelings freely. If I like something, people know about it. And if I don’t, people also know about that too. In the US, I said what was on my mind- especially to guys who I felt were pretentious, cocky, and generally awful people. That didn’t happen often (mainly in clubs, parties and other places where said interaction was probably mistaken for flirtation), but it did happen when it needed to. In India, this also tends to happen, but I can feel the tension in the air because they aren’t used to the abuse. And that’s when I know I’ve gone too far- but by then its too late. Sadly, I am starting to realise that I need to censor myself, because if I don’t, I will be the loser in the end.
Here is why it was fine for me to say what I wanted to say in the US, but need to censor myself in India:
In the US, we have a great justice system that takes rape very seriously. More importantly, in front of a US jury, I would undoubtedly be seen as the victim. This is how an American court would look at me:
- Star student who was loved by friends and family
- Didn’t party a whole lot, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t sleep around
- Upstanding citizen with a stable job
- She goes out to parties
- She dresses…sometimes ok but sometimes…
- She goes out at night
- She doesn’t live with her family- she lives by herself instead- with male roommates
- She is “independent” and “liberal” and loud
- She swears and says things which you shouldn’t really be talking about