Should she be scared to choose her passion as her profession?
The recent case of the gang rape in Mumbai has triggered off another debate. Besides the utterly disgraceful term “rape culture” that has emerged in India of late, such frequently occurring loathsome incidents are posing myriad questions before us at large. What exactly is going wrong? Is it the perverted psyche of the offenders? The corrupt government who aren't quite waking up to this horrid malady that our society is infested with? Or is the truth even uglier than that? Perhaps in a way we are all in the wrong, for, through such incidents, what often come into the forefront is the distorted perceptions of people and their chauvinist attitudes that put the very existence of womenfolk at stake.
Let’s not talk about feminism in this context. It’s simply an issue of allowing an individual the freedom to opt for a profession of her desire. If you’re wondering as to how this is associated with the incident that was being talked about, well, it has sparked off the question of whether girls should be allowed to take up professions such as journalism or anything for that matter that requires her to stay out of doors at odd hours, or that demands her to visit new, and often unfamiliar places, and meet many people. How on earth can this be justified, I ask. Is this the “independent India” that we feel so proud of? We claim that along all these decades, we have achieved equality for women, and they are now considered at an equal platform with their male counterparts, in all walks of life. But it seems like a farce now. The hypocrites who had earlier smugly asserted that these days, daughter and wives are allowed to take a call when it comes to their professional choices, are themselves are now saying things like: “Why was that photojournalist out at that hour?” “These photojournalists show way too much courage and this is how they meet such tragic ends.” Is this what we have come to?
The situation does not demand any such simplification. It has become far too grave and has to be dealt with a tough hand, rather than sidelining the very victims- women. Every woman has the right to settle for a profession that she wants, and if a society, a nation, cannot sufficiently ensure her safety and dignity, then it is a shame for the society, and not the woman concerned. Even in the 21st century, if we dictate the womenfolk to avoid any unconventional stream of work and settle for jobs that have a fixed 9am to 5pm work schedule, then what are we heading towards? This isn't progress, but sheer regression. Aspiring journalists all over India have already received a huge blow post this incident. After all the candle marches, protest walks, anti rape bills, and what not, we have still not been able to change the innate patriarchal pattern of thought that runs within us. it still is how it was when Nirbhaya (or, Damini, or whatever one might choose to call her) was fated to such a dreadful end.
True, some professions involve comparatively greater risks, hardships and difficulties, but if a woman is brave enough to move out of her comfort zone and take up something that she is really keen about, does she have to pay such a big price for that? Why should we still have such demarcations as to which areas are exclusively a male domain, where a woman should not tread? Why should we confine them to certain areas beyond which they are not to dream? As the banners held by the protesters on the streets of Mumbai demanded, “Call it the Shakti Mills Rape Case, and NOT the photojournalist rape case.” This too wrongly brings the emphasis onto the profession of the victim, which is no way can be blamed as the reason for such a catastrophe. There is something grossly wrong somewhere, and that needs to be addressed and redressed immediately, without harbouring such sexist opinion. Let’s not dictate women as to what they are “fit” for, and what they are not. They are already subjected to grievous wrongs. Let’s not worsen it any further, and then label ourselves as a “modern, civilized society.”