Women Safety-the East and the West

It was  the chilly night of 16 December 2012 when  we reached Delhi to catch mid-night flight to Bangkok on our way to Australia. By the time the news of the horrific crime on that cold winter night in Delhi broke out, we were far away in a distant land.

Blissfully unaware of the chilling details of the gruesome assault on the helpless girl in a moving bus, we were having a gala time in Bangkok. Thailand, though not a developed country, presented a picture quite different from India. The size of the women work-force in the malls, shops and restaurants was conspicuously large. I was surprised to see slim, petite young girls flaunting their beautiful legs in skirts and shorts, the length of their dresses barely exceeding one foot. What surprised me more was that these girls could move around without being harassed by staring glances and roving eyes. No ogling, no eve-teasing, no lewd remarks, it was just unbelievable.

Moving from Bangkok to Sydney, I was in for a greater cultural shock. Couples could be seen hugging and kissing in public but there was absolutely no trace of eve-teasing. Girls could be seen wearing all sorts of dresses, moving in company or all alone, travelling by day and night, but nobody stared at them. Skimpily clad men and women in bikinis lazing on the beaches was a common sight.

I cannot say there are no crimes against women in these countries but definitely women seemed to be enjoying greater freedom there. It is a fact that world over women constitute vulnerable section of the society but there is no doubt that the crime rate against women in India is one of the highest in the world. Many countries have issued advisory to their women against travelling to India due to safety concerns.

Be it markets, roads and especially public transport, women are subject to a lot of harassment in our country. I remember the time when I joined a reputed college in Jalandhar for doing masters. Though essentially a boys’ college at under graduate level, it was co-education for post graduation courses. I cannot forget the experience. With our eyes down cast as we used to walk in the campus, the heads of the boys would turn complete 180 degree from one side to another to stare at the girls. We felt as if we were alliens from a different planet.

It may be a small town or a big city, women in India feel more unsafe as compared to their counterparts elsewhere. The western world, which is less inhibited and more permissive towards mingling of the two sexes may have its own set of problems but is definitely safer for women.  In contrast to the liberal West, Islamic countries are highly conservative but their strict laws are deterrent to crime against women. In India women are more prone to all kinds of sexual harassment, from eve-teasing to assault not only because our society is conservative with men having narcissistic mindset but also there is hardly any fear of law.


Published in Hindustan Times on 23 Dec 2013

8 Replies to “Women Safety-the East and the West”

  1. So nicely explained dear Rama . I also experienced such kind of situation at Govt college Muktsar from 1952-1956 , when we were only three girls and 500 boys , but situation was not so bad , only passing of remarks was the limit

    1. Thanks Mrs Luthra. Your account has a positive side. As against three girls for 500 boys in your college, now the scenario is very different.Girls today enjoy much more freedom.

  2. Mrs Dhamija , it is indeed sad that the things have not improved. Heinous crimes against women continue to be reported in the country. Perverted minds…easy access to pornography and also commodification of women by the main stream media have been contributory factors.

  3. Rama, it’s really difficult for women to face such type of atrocities in India. We may be highly educated but being mother, sister, wife _it is our moral duty to advise our son, brother or even all men of family the importance of women in their lives.

  4. ‘Fashion apne ghar jake kari’ this dictum does not change the story of atrocities on girls rather they become more vulnerable after marriage at home only
    Society needs a total overhauling.
    Values to give respect to daughter, daughter-in-law , sister and womanhood at large must be seeded in the childhood
    Family is an institution where moral values of children take wings
    It’s a larger question to be sorted out at the grassroot level in every aspect

    1. True Mrs Chopra , we all strongly feel somewhere we have failed to bring up the boys the right way- to respect women and treat them as equals.

  5. Yes Mrs Dhamija. The times change, but the situation remains the same.There is misuse of technology, easy access to pornography is polluting the minds. No faith in god men either….

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