December 5th, Mumbai 2014. The city looks the same. The sea from my hotel room at Taj Lands End looked calm. It’s been more than two years and i was looking forward to meet my besties. Three of us friends were going to meet over drinks at a popular bandra bar. We decided to drive ourselves to the said destination and cap our evening by 9 pm. I took stock of the city’s situation post the recent numerous assaults, and considered activating the rape safety valve. There were new rules this time that i needed to be aware of. ”Don’t take a cab, drink less, do not doze off, and drive home at an hour that is positively ‘rape-free’.” Words of wisdom from a friends mom. Noted.
”Rape free” hour!! That was new to ears. I asked my friends out of curiosity how to calculate a ”rape free” hour and here is what the messiahs of women had to say, pay very close attention.
You don’t get stuck in dingy alleyways, you minus all the time you desire to loiter in the city post sunset, you don’t order an LIT (Long-Island Ice Tea), you keep a father, brother, boyfriend, any reliable, preferably familial, male entity at close proximity, you negotiate with your boss to let you off early everyday of your work week, you set a curfew hour that is acceptable by your parents, your landlord or your husband, you always address the ‘other male’ as bhaiyya (brother) — even if it is your assailant. In short you just keep a very low profile, invisible to be precise. Finally my friends tells me to always ”always” wear anti rape undergarments.
Yes, that’s how you escape rape. Utter bollocks. I have been a vocal contributor at Worlpulse that aims to help women protect themselves against violence with the help of personal safety products, information & awareness. I am always looking for innovative ways related to women’s safety but I won’t put my vagina under a lock or follow some obnoxious ”rape free” hour. While I am all for women’s protections and preventive measures, wearing a panty that looks like a chastity belt is not my idea of protecting myself.
On that note, the three of us met again, another evening, and we stood put till the time we wanted to. Misogyny and stupidity be damned.