India’s definition of the term “ladies first” is not for the development, constructive, progressive things my friends. With India, “ladies first” since decades has been about victimizing women in incalculable, brutal crimes.
And with that note, a good afternoon to respected jury members, members of the audience and my fellow orators I, Aishani Sheth would not want to answer this question by saying women in India are safe or otherwise. Rather, I would like to expose the true nature of the very question.
“Does the sun rise in the East?” Well, this is not a question that needs an answered, is it? It is rhetoric and the condition of women in India today is such that this question too becomes rhetoric.
I do not wish to talk about how walking alone at night or going to schools or waiting for transport in broad daylight also or staying in your own house or just enjoying with friends IS NOT SAFE today! All of us know it because every 20minutes a rape case is reported in India and statistics state more than 50% cases are not even reported.
But I am going to talk about who a woman is! She is a mother, a wife, a lover, a daughter, a friend, a professional, a sister. And I am not going to give names, all I am going to give you is 5 instances.
In Kerela a teenage daughter was sexually abused by reportedly being promised roles in TV serials.
In Kashmir, Human Rights organizations including Human Rights Watch have reported that the number of raped friends, sisters was as high as about 100 in just one night by army officials.
In Uttar Pradesh, a 28 year old wife was raped by her own father-in-law.
In Maharashtra, there was a major case of human trafficking, rape and sexual slavery and more than 500 school or college going daughters had fallen victims.
And how can we forget the gang rape on a friend in our prestigious Capital City!
(Well is there any safety in India? And my friends it not that only Indian women are not safe, every woman coming to India is unsafe today! French Tourist was drugged and sexually abused who later died. While 6 men raped a Swiss Tourist) ?
India has been invaded by Prussians, Mughals, Sultans, Romans, French Britishers but has attained freedom in the end. It has independence today. But what about the women? Do they have the freedom? They are still the slaves of a patriarchal society.
It would be surprising to note that just yesterday I was reading the Forbes Magazine and I came across the list of “World’s most powerful Women 2013” and out of 100 only 4 were from India. In the top 10 it had Sonia Gandhi at no.9 and Indra Nooyi at no.10. But friends, lets act practical. Sonia Gandhi is an Italian while Indra Nooyi is a US Citizen. Power and Safety go hand in hand. Without safety there can be no power. And the condition of Safety is a pre condition and this is clearly evident through this report!
All of us, whether a male or female are scared to walk in the streets past midnight in the fear that dogs will bite or chase us. While for women in India the situation has become such that at any place or at any time of the day there is a chance that she will get attacked by “Those dogs”.
Lastly to conclude, I would like to share my own experience. Just yesterday I was preparing for this elocution competition and as it demanded time, I was in the campus beyond the regular college hours. I might have received more than 40 calls from my mother, my father and my brother every 2 minutes with just one concern in their mind “Are you safe? Are you safe? Are you safe?”