image courtesy : http://pixelgardenstudio.com/page/blog/post/getting-over-social-media-fear

image courtesy : http://pixelgardenstudio.com/page/blog/post/getting-over-social-media-fear

Update : Via this post I am not blaming anyone here least of all the victim. I am pondering upon what we can do from our side to help avoid or educate or at least make young men and women aware…  So no sides being taken here.. when I ask “why did the girl go….” it means ” why was she not warned or told about the dangers by her employers, her being an intern and all that ??” “could some other measures be taken into account to avoid such incidents?”

Rather than raging about in the media, what quiet actions can we take what is within our control and this pertains to only one of the many forms of rape.. that is catching a girl unawares by a group of men and committing that crime..  This post is not a generalization about all the forms of rape that happens.. neither is it a judgement on anyone.. its a question I am asking..

**********************************************************************************

I have been following the Mumbai rape story for a while and the question that keeps coming to my mind is that why did the girl go to such a secluded and a dangerous place and not use some sort of cautionary… tactics… get more people with her… ( maybe I dont understand the press) Maybe she could have been saved.. maybe … so many maybes.. the Delhi case was unavoidable but this could have been planned better… Shakti mills, I mean, its a very infamous place.. also for the employers not to have thought 2 seconds before sending an intern into such a place.. is also what I am thinking..

Glad that the perpetrators were caught.. in record time and well the case is moving on…( even though I was laughing about the fact that the cops almost let one of the perps go, by asking him where he stayed…while going into the direction where he lived..  )

But I keep thinking such a ghastly act could have been avoided if some precautions were taken just like Ashima writes… she follows her instinct.. and its good to know fear and act on it… walk with it..

But what else can we do ? maybe avoidance is the best method… Avoid dark alleys, avoid getting into over crowded and over enthusiastic festival mobs… where most crime of this sort happens… avoid going to areas which are kind of shady… what else… it does sound like a restrictive refrain…

I have many young woman members who work late. I always worry when they go home late.. I always think that its better to take an escorted cab than walk alone or go alone.. I tell them to come early and go early if possible… if a girl lives far away I encourage her to live nearby… so that its easy to reach home.. we cannot avoid late nights.. but we can always have some plans to safeguard ourselves…

I personally drive with all my doors locked.. and I dont stop for anyone… knowing about the car jacking cases that have happened here…

I remember myself waiting in the railway station in Mumbai for Rocky and at first everything seemed ok but when it was getting late.. like 3 or 4 trains passed by, the looks that I was getting was definitely not friendly and it was very obvious that I was not from Mumbai.. I remember thinking what I needed to do, and walked off to the main entrance which was crowded and felt safer…

Traveling alone to Delhi, I was standing alone in the rain and there was this bus wallah who kept on calling me to enter and I refused… he cajoled me and coaxed me… but nope I did not step in… finally he gave up and waited… It was weird I  had to get to Mac Leodganj and my bus was cancelled and I did not know if this was the right bus… and it was raining cats and dogs…

I waited till I saw other passengers get in… showing their tickets… and then I got in.. the driver and the handyman did not stop to make snide comments which I ignored and sat myself feeling safer…

Seattle : Wandering around streets of Seattle… ( I always love walking the streets of any place to get the feel of the area.) when I came across a really shady space.. how did I know it was shady, well it had dilapidated buildings, and almost no street lights and I immediately retraced my steps towards downtown area where ample lights and ample shops were there and gave up my wandering..

Beijing : My hotel that I chose was very old, looked good and all that but the alley leading to it was not so good… It made me avoid doing my walks alone… or stick to my adventures in broad daylight…  I mean… these are simple self preservation… tricks I always use…  when I saw a group of very aggressive chinese men trying to show off, I gave them wide berth… and turned another way… there are so many day to day issues that we face as women..

Nanjing : looking for a phone card sim, I tried the alleys but oh my, the obvious looks, just made me go without a SIM card for the whole trip…  sitting in the train station eating my food where I get jostled deliberately.. till I just get up and go take another place..

New York : I remember getting my doughnut stolen and well when I saw the huge bulks attending the counter, I just backed off.. whats a doughnut… man… I was jostled while I was taking pics in Rockefeller center… at first I said hey ok.. then it was deliberate… I just moved out of the line… walked to the museum nearby…

San Francisco : having a drink and being chatted up by a stranger… quite insistently… in fact… I just walked away…

Sunnyvale : Indian cab driver being quite abusive towards me for no reason… early in the morning.. he had to get me to the airport… and started shouting at me… for delaying him… I just refused to get inside his taxi… he started to almost raise his hand when the hotel receptionist called the security who was like a big bouncer and they escorted me to find me another taxi… i was shaken but still felt better to have this huge guy protect me and say “come this way Maam, you dont need to listen to him” Phew..

I have many more not so pleasant situations that I avoided… if you live and travel and work, and just live… you will face many dangers… I know I do… I try to be aware of the space that I am in…

I also take risks on and off..  but self preservation always has helped me till now… and when I am alone… I am all the more alert..

So these are some of the unsaid aspects of travel… that I face, not that it dims my passion to travel and travel more..

And I have to say I have met many good Samaritans who helped me along my journey… in a well meaning sort of way..  and for that I am so grateful.. 🙂

Sigh… so many ifs and buts…

The point here is what are you going to do about self awareness when you are in a space… any space…

Trains, flight.. pubs, bus stands, auto.. etc etc…. normal places…  self preservation and caution always helps.. it might not be the answer but it helps… and it avoids… the mishaps that we could sometimes unwittingly invite.. At least for the situations we can control…

There are many men who are amazingly chivalrous but there are also men who will not stop to take a chance.. and it can be friends you know, people you work with, people you hang around with… what are the symptoms that should ring that warning bell to help you…. ? I have mine… its more situational

Do you have yours… ?

Its no use blaming the society or the culture…  no use just being angry and throwing some absurd judgement on some vague miscreants… the focus needs to be inwards.. the focus needs to be on how to walk free with our awareness of the danger being strong… and live safely…

And that goes for men as well as women..