Guest Contributor Dr. Smruti Smita Mohapatra is a veterinarian scholar and an active social volunteer, who was chosen as the youngest ‘Udyam Social Icon of the Week’, by NMIMS Bangalore. She expresses her frank views on- what does it take to be a present day city woman?
“Hey! You are so beautiful, so fair!” said one of my seniors Shankar*(name changed). He is a well-educated, married man who has not changed despite being a high ranking senior official. While Shankar* ogled at me and intruded my personal space, I made an attempt to distract him by enquiring about his wife, her posting and their little son.
Honestly girls – fair, dusky, wheatish, dark, educated and uneducated have their own share of pain. I do have my woes and a lion share of discrimination. But now the point of letting everyone know about such things is not just to grab attention or draw sympathy for enduring such acts of ill-behaviour. No, I don’t need that but I must let everyone know about the struggles of women in an urban area.
Discrimination of women in cities at each and every step of their lives has now emerged in different forms and you will be astonished how! Subtle disrespect, verbal abuse, emotional torture, shaming for making different choices in life, prohibition to exercise their will and character assassination are the emerging, unreported and less talked forms of humiliation of women in cities. Even some educated families choose to have a male heir during adoption.
How many young girls feel safe to walk freely on the streets late in the night? How many of us would feel comfortable to chat for hours near a tea stall? How much of the night belongs to us? How many women passengers have felt uncomfortable during an auto journey? The way the auto driver adjusts the rear view mirror to enjoy fleeting glances. How they fix their eyes on us, not the roads! Women may not tell you what they reel under when such brutal discrimination occurs. Some don’t dare to voice it out due to peer pressure. Some can’t talk. Some just discuss. Some choose to ignore. Some tend to suffer. Because at times, it becomes necessary for some to put a smile and march.
The structural problems based on gender might be similar everywhere but the difference lay in performance across communities or families, highlights Mahaprajna, a teacher of English Access Microscholarship Programme in Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, Bhubaneswar. Whether a boss, a husband or a boyfriend, charity begins at home. The root cause of such gender-based discrimination is the ill attitude and mentality of the individuals irrespective of their economic background, educational qualifications, foreign exposure and cool quotient.
Listening to heart-wrenching struggles every other day and undergoing the same myself, has made me realise that it all comes down to us. Who is that ‘Us’? My stern answer will be ‘She’. A child develops and learns manners from home and that is where the role of a mother who teaches her child right and wrong comes into the picture. In that manner, we can expect comprehensive changes. It takes a woman to let another woman, her good will, an ounce of empathy and a little prayer, to co-exist in peace. Together we can do it!