Being a female bike rider in a city like Mumbai is difficult. Let me specify on the onset, I don’t mean to say that it’s not enjoyable in its own way…but there are number of incidences that have saddened me to the state of my city. Being a female driver in a city itself teaches you a lot but it tends to get a bit overboard when a woman enters the so-called male domain of biking. Not a day goes by when someone is not staring at you blankly, and there are times that I get a number of hoots and cat calls, then there are guys who try and drive faster than you and try and distract you my pretending to bang into you, then there are some nuts on the road who simply scream “Baby, can I get a lift!”.
I feel like sometimes running the scooter over them…but all I can respond with is a cold stare. And it’s not like I cannot do anything…it’s just that…it won’t make any difference to them.
Ditto is the case with trains. I wish there was a way in which countries around the world could be judged by the way they treat their women. When you have a separate coach for Men and Woman for a local travel…it says a lot about society and state of affairs. I’m sickened by the way women are exploited when they just get into a Men’s compartment by mistake…No effort is spared for to wipe your hands on the ‘prized possession’ that has had the misfortune to enter the wrong coach. With that, one may argue, that Men are not at fault because she was in the wrong coach. But, hell in Mumbai we’ve had instances of a teenage handicapped girl being raped in the first class compartment of Borivali fast. The number of thefts of gold jewelry and snatching of purses is as common as the frequency of the trains themselves. Ditto with the stone pelting. Related to the station was one more instance that happened not so long ago on Andheri station. A drunken man was beating his girlfriend black and blue in full view on a local station, and nobody came forward to help that girl. She collapsed on the station and the news was in the papers for a day and then forgotten.
Why is this the way it is? I won’t talk about any other place but Mumbai because I think Mumbai is one the most forward societies in the entire of India. Why does this continue…and why are people OK with it? Why don’t they speak up?
And…I’ve to confess. Once upon a time, I was a Feminist. But now I’ve come to realize how important the balance and respect between both the sexes is. Why can’t men respect women and their integrity and vice versa. What does the man groping a woman in a public place prove…that is stronger and more powerful? It’s sad because I think he did it…not because he wanted to…but because he knew he COULD do it and get away with it.
Action Hero Komal Mehta