The investment in turning state capital Bhubaneswar to a Smart City is in thousands of crores. But the need of the hour is investment in smartening up the police and the residents here and remind them it will always be the Temple City known for sculptures of damsels, albeit not wearing salwar kameez or body covering sarees but sensuously posing and evidently independent.
Surely, they were not judged by the city residents then and dared to adorn these temple walls thousands of years ago. If it was 2017, they would have been molested, raped and murdered!
Despite its progressive roots, the city, as is the rest of India, evolving the other way.
On New Year’s Eve, in Bangalore, women were molested right before the police by miscreants and after the horrific incident, the remarks were about women being sugar attracting ‘ant’ men and about getting the right treatment (read punishment) for choosing certain clothes but none at all regarding lack of sensibility of men in one of India’s most cosmopolitan cities.
On Friday, three young women in the Temple City, accompanied by a male friend, not only faced lewd remarks but were also beaten up in the presence of people. As per the victims, the onlookers rather said the girls deserved it for wearing ‘such type’ of clothes! The police too made fun of them and even before assisting them first asked how they were related to their male friend and how they were friends if all belonged to separate colleges! Some policemen also remarked on their clothing being the reason for the incident! The PCR, by the way, reached over 30 minutes late even after being informed by the victims right from the beginning.
While clothes, be it a skirt or anything else the girls were wearing, should never have been the subject of discussion for the onlookers and more so for the police, in this particular case, one could tick in every box of the checklist that God-knows-who has prepared for the girls to be spared from being misbehaved, abused or raped. They were wearing full sleeved clothes and even covered their faces (with which also some people and utterly fanatic and most useless activists who even call themselves social workers have a problem) since it was a sunny afternoon. Again, the time when these girls were out on the road also was well within the ‘safe’ limits as per that prescribed checklist.
In fact, the brave girls recorded the incident on their phones even after being threatened not to do so by the miscreants for the video to be used as proof. Yet, even after over 24 hours, there is little action by the police sparing a press conference claiming the miscreants have been identified.
Why do women have to be made so uncomfortable with their bodies! Why do they have to think twice before picking up a dress or even draping a saree if any part of body is visible! Why are men not being asked about not wearing dhotis anymore but women are lectured all the time for losing interest in sarees!
In a country where at the drop of a hat, women are judged for laughing too loud, talking too much, not wearing sarees, hanging out with boys and for anything and everything they do, men are probably taught that they are here to punish women for not taking approval before choosing clothes!
Women have always been victims of the deep rooted misogyny and no matter if it is a family feud, religion based riots or vendetta of any kind, sexual abuse towards women has been considered the most apt revenge.
Where is a woman safe? Not in tribal areas where she is abused by villagers, Maoists or policemen; not in Kashmir or North East from where we hear about Army men dishonouring women; not in big cities like Delhi or Bangalore that witnesse rapes like the Nirbhaya incident or New Year’s Eve horror and not in Bhubaneswar either. Probably, it is right to feel there is no place safe for women in this country.