2012 ends today, and all I can think is: thankgodthankgodthankgod.
The past few weeks have been a nightmare for Indians all over the world. It is when it stuck us with brute force that we are a nation raising monsters. We, who call ourselves liberal, developing, democratic – we’re raising monsters. From the parents who tell us not to talk to boys and then order us to marry a stranger, to mothers who tell their boys to marry only “good girls”, we’re making ourselves a nation of repressed aggression.
We make the children of India sexist prudes, mystifying sex, weaving “sex before marriage is a sin” into every child’s upbringing. We make men superior to women, and tell our men that “good girls” are marriageable, while “bad girls”…they’re easy, fair game. Go ahead, they’re asking for it.
This month, I have felt something deeper than loss. I have felt grief bordering on insanity, because for the first time, I feel ashamed of being an Indian. Of being a part of a nation that can make me sick to my stomach; kneeling on a cold tile floor, heaving out my insides, thinking of all the times I have felt safe in India. Thinking of December 16th, when a girl my age, would never feel safe again. If she had survived, she would never ever have felt safe in her own country again.
I’m an Indian woman. When I’m in India: I wear shorts and revealing tops. I kiss and hug my boyfriend and male friends in public. I have travelled within my city alone post-midnight. My girlfriends and I have stumbled out of bars after too many beers, and sat on footpaths smoking cigarettes. I have lived with my boyfriend, no marriage prospects in sight. I am, by Indian standards, a “bad girl”. Should I be made to feel unsafe in my own country? The country I have carried inside me since I was born? The country I have always called home, despite the cities I have lived in? The country I have always said I would raise children in? If I raise a daughter in India, will I ever sleep again?
It’s a new year, India. Change. Grow the hell up. Realise that modern values aren’t evil threats to your glorious traditions, but are steeped in common sense. Instill sex education into your children’s upbringing. Make it an integral part of their education. Teach them that sex isn’t an illicit&unnatural pleasure, but a human joy. Teach them about safety and love. Teach them that sex is about togetherness and mutual want, not an infliction of power. Teach your boys that they are equal to girls, and teach your girls the same.
You believe in education, don’t you India? You boast of your literacy, of your high standards of education. So educate. Not how to memorize textbooks, but basic rights and wrongs. Of how no means no. Of rational thought over primal urges and what it means to be human.
Change for the savagely damaging beliefs Indian parents have been pouring into their children’s head for centuries. Change for the beautiful&educated unnamed girl in Delhi, one of the thousands you lose annually because your children have been raised all wrong.
I never knew her, and now no-one ever will. But don’t let her die in vain, the way you have allowed thousands to. Don’t let her be just another nasty report in your records, one that is collecting dust. Don’t let her be just another impassioned status update, another candlelight vigil, another black dot of a profile picture, another blog like this one. Make her your symbol for change, make her the reason you rid yourself of the demons of our upbringing.
Make her the reason to make women feel safe and in love with you again.