By Shreya Narayan | Opening Doorz Editorial | August 09, 2017
India, a country run by, for, and of the patriarchy has a challenge they are not able to determine a correct response for. And the challenge is becoming clear each passing day. Our country is facing a new ordeal. And it has sprung its head pretty often since the 2012 Nirbhaya case.
Women in India who have essentially been second class citizens and have been easily cowed down by society into submitting to its ways either through fear, shame or guilt, are refusing to relent anymore!
Varnika Kundu, a 29-year-old girl in Chandigarh who was stalked by two boys, Vikas Barala, son of the ruling BJP Chief of Haryana, and Ashish Sharma, is setting high standards for women who are wronged.
Varnika is who every father in India dreams his daughter should be like… empowered, matter-of-fact, and most important of all, fearless. And we must salute her parents for giving this kind of woman to India. We must also salute Varnika for the manner in which she has stood out to not only help her case, but to also give hope to other belittled women.
Till now, men in India shamed women and their character to silence their protests, rape charges, plea against violence, dowry death accusations et al. They got away with running their fear-led fiefdom. But what will they do with a woman who says that she will not bow to fear? After all, Vikas Barala, a 23-year-old man, perhaps drunk more on his father’s post than alcohol itself, and Haryana’s dubious historical take on manhood, wanted to scare the lady into submission and in all probability, abduction.
But Varnika called the police, who arrested the accused.
It is another matter that they did not know who he was when they arrested him. When his identity became clear, he was released on bail. Then began the slander campaign against Varnika!
But will the slander campaign stick? Whoever has heard Varnika (man or woman), knows that the simplicity of her words rings true. She does not need to explain. She does not need to defend herself, especially because, as she says, “I have done nothing wrong.”
India is in shock! Especially those thousands of men who have been given a free reign by their mothers and fathers to shamelessly loiter around on the roads of India, making lives hell for the women, anytime of day or night. Their ‘licence to stalk’, rape, assault, kill and slander comes from their reality–they were born male. And their shamelessly proud parents, who have been rubbing their manhood in the face of the entire female population of India, by virtue of how they treated this female population, sent a message to their stalking sons, that females can be brought in line with one and one thing alone: FEAR.
Thus mothers of girls taught them to fear since childhood. Inside their own homes, it was mostly the male members of the family. Outside their homes, it was just about everything–men, short clothes, and darkness topping that list. That this makes India an unsafe country is lost on all these participants.
Varnika stands tall for all women–refusing to fall for fear. Her take is that if men are unable to count on women getting scared, then the power they feel on women will be robbed off them. She asks women to take responsibility for themselves: “If we give men the power to keep us safe, then they also have the power NOT to keep us safe.”
Thus she asks women to stop delegating their safety to men! Why are women in India shaken by these words? Because this gives them a perspective which their mother’s and governments and husbands did not provide!
And why are these words angering stalking men? Masculinity has been men’s trump-card. That’s how they make others submit to them. Since time immemorial, women have served as properties, because men have had the power to keep them, with or without consent. Wars, loot, religion, politics and plain old violence have played their stellar part in women’s submission and men’s conquest.
A fearless woman was always done away with. A fearless woman is done away with even now. And thus fear always won. But there are crores of Kundus in India, tired of being run over, bulldozed, played with, and thrown out of moving cars, their rights, and their freedom.
If they decide not to let fear determine which path they will take from now on, what kind of country will India become?
Certainly, a better country!
You have the respect of the nation, Ms Varnika Kundu.
(The author of this article is actor Shreya Narayan who is related to no one and is her own person).