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Posted at: Jan 8, 2017, 12:41 AM; last updated: Jan 8, 2017, 12:41 AM (IST)TAKE MY WORD

The story of the skirt and burqa

Harvinder Khetal
The story of the skirt and burqa
The story of the skirt and burqa
“Was it really my fault?”
asked the SHORT SKIRT.
“No, it happened with me too,”
replied the BURQA.

This pithy message being reposted in the social media represents the recent reality of residents of Bengaluru. A week after the incidents of mass molestation and assault marked and marred the ringing in of the New Year in the city, a young woman wearing a burqa walking on her way to work was waylaid by a man. The man stalked her, grabbed her and pinned her to the ground. He got scared and let go only when the street dogs started barking ferociously after hearing her screams.

It seems that we have been skirting the issue of women’s vulnerability over the ages and the world continues to be a man’s world.

I recall reading about that other reviling rascal who resorted to groping a sleeping co-passenger on a plane. This was reminiscent of another terse message circulating in the media: 

“A woman is not written in Braille, you don’t have to touch her to know her.”

Touch her heart to know her and win her -- whether she is clad in a skirt or a burqa, or, whether she is a bit of a skirt (an attractive woman) or not.  In fact, don’t skirt this rule even if you were using the term bit of a skirt in a derogatory manner to describe a woman who lacks value beyond being physically attractive. In short, respect all types of women.

One can readily recount many more revolting episodes, both reported and unreported, that will make one recoil in repugnance and horror. They have been recast in this message that recaps some prominent events and which is also doing the rounds on the social apps:

So, I went out with my girlfriends to party on the crowded streets of a Metropolitan city, they came out in large numbers and molested us...... But my safety is my responsibility so... 

The next time I went to a discotheque, it was enclosed and had bouncers, they came into the place and beat us up and ripped our clothes off.......But my safety is my responsibility so....

 I went to a movie with a Male friend for company, they pushed me into a bus and shoved an iron rod inside my privates.......But my safety is my responsibility, so......

I went to my college, fully clad in a “decent” salwaar kameez, they caught me around a corner and squeezed my bum......But my safety is my responsibility, so...... 

I decided to stay at home in the comfort of my own house, they broke down the door, tied me up and videotaped the things they made me do with them.......But my safety is my responsibility, so...... 

These days I sit in the bathroom, locked tight, not coming out at all. They stand on the terrace opposite to it peeking in through the bathroom window, but I don’t take a bath.......because my safety is my responsibility....... 

Now, they have me exactly where they have always wanted me, my spirit broken, my ability to fight back gone, my will to do something their mercy.....still stuck in the bathroom.....dreading the time when the knocking starts on the door as they come to get me here too. I am that Indian Woman who can excel at sports, win medals for the Country, join the Army, become a CEO, go to the outer space and be the talk of the world.....only if I can come out of this bathroom......But my safety is my responsibility, so.... 

Disclaimer: Girls wearing short clothes and drinking and partying are copying the Western culture. Boys who molest them are copying the Indian culture???

Well, well. Take a breath. Without skirting around the issue (dodging the point), the message holds a brief for both the skirt (woman) and the skirt chaser (someone, typically a man, who very actively, persistently, and/or aggressively pursues sexual relations with women).

And, this rather horrible state of women all over the country prompted an artist to very cogently depict the picture in the form of India’s map, which too has gone viral (see photo).

Let’s hope that this widespread dissemination of messages that shame people who try to shame women with their shameful activities will drill some sense into those who seem to be beyond the skirt (rim, periphery) of sensibility or are short of it. After all, as James Brown rightly crooned: “This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world/ But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.”


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