Shenaz Treasurywala: Open Letter, Why Such A Big Deal
Well! It has been a couple of days now and an open letter by Shenaz Treasurywala to the PM has gone quite viral and has almost become the talk of the town now. I was wondering what triggered the open letter to the PM, maybe it was the Uber Taxi rape issue.
It was disgusting to see the string of news of rape and assault on women and the taxi driver issue was another painful incident indeed. It did open a can of worms against Uber Taxi and a decent move is to note that these taxis are now banned in a few places.
It atleast sends a message that you cannot take issues of sexual harassment against women on a lighter note, it has to be dealt with seriousness.
Now coming to the issue at hand – the letter by Shenaz.
In this letter, Shenaz talks about her personal experience of being mistreated as she grew up and the kind of trauma she had to go through in a society which seemed to find groping an act of right instead of an act of shame. There were a few pointers in the letter which makes you think:
1) An open letter to the PM tagging Amitabh Bacchan, Narendra Modi, Sachin Tendulkar, Shahrukh Khan, Anil Ambani.
It is nice to see that the celebrities are being a little proactive in the social issues, try to hold the responsible position which is a very welcome change from what was earlier. A few days ago Sachin adopted a village in Andhra, Anushka Sharma visited a few local schools, Amir Khan of course with his Satyameva Jayate. I can certainly see a whole line of progress and it sure is a very welcome change.
She mentions them as the most powerful men in India and urges them to take action to tackle the menace. It will be interesting to see what they can do about this.
2) It is a shame.
It is indeed a shame that women have to go through all these. I was aware of the constant staring and making them feel uncomfortable. I had heard of eve teasing and of course in the recent past, the string of rape cases that keep coming up in the news every now and then. It made me wonder – How and Why has rape become such a common issue in the country? Is it so easy to perpetrate a crime and revel with complete impunity? Is it that easy to be careless about a serious issue like this?
We are a nation who are headed towards great progress and when people ask me, esp the westerners when they ask me about the rape situation in India – it appalls me to talk about it, I am left completely helpless and wonder what kind of an image we as a country are sending to these people and what kind of an image are we sending to our own fellow citizens?
So far, the only message that seems to be prevalent is that – Rape doesn’t seem to be that big an issue.
And sometimes police have even gone to the extent of blaming women for rape, it is quite an irony where the victim is blamed for the crime committed on them. It is as if these victims have gone out of their way to invite this crime to be committed on them
3) SAVE US!
This has been the message which has been requested by the poor victims from time and again, and when it is from the celebrity end, it does become a little famous – thanks to the media who play a role in it. Shenaz has sent a message to the PM asking them to save women collectively from such deplorable crimes committed against them.
She calls for the celebrities and the people in power for action, to help save these women. For a woman who has gone through it herself, I can only imagine the pain she would have gone through and it indeed is very painful to see that. But when I read the letter, I was really hoping that there would be a few suggestions/solutions than a complaint letter to the PM. Personally I didn’t understand this one statement
“What good are all your speeches in the US or Japan or AUSTRALIA- NAMO, if no woman can walk freely in the streets even in broad daylight by herself in the CAPITAL OF OUR COUNTRY. Isn’t this a SHAME? SHAME ON YOU SIR.”
I did not understand the connection between the issue and the relation in the above statement. Anyway we are not here to criticize a letter, we are here atleast to try and find a solution to the situation. Here are a few I could think of :
- I understand that the police are grossly under capacity. There are fewer police per people in India than any other decently developed country in the world. Maybe the solution is to hire more police persons, if we are not able to afford a permanent police set up, call for tender and ask for private institutions which can provide security service. They are not very expensive, but they can do this job of preventing harassment of women in these public places
- Education of the masses. It is a long term approach but something that needs to be done very seriously is to sensitize people about the issue – tell them how wrong it is to behave in this manner and how far reaching the consequences are.
- The issue of impunity: You cannot do something to someone and expect to scott free, if you have done a mistake you are liable for a punishment. A clear message has to be sent that this is a serious crime and it will be dealt with seriously. People cannot claim innocence or money or power and escape their actions.
- Public messages : We have seen a lot of billboards which talk about smoking, traffic rules, advertisements and so much more .How about having a few bill boards which talk about crimes against women, how about a few of these which can send a public message
- Public action: I fail to understand what is worse – the action of these perpetrators in the society or the silence of the so called educated ones? I think it is time that we all look at public action where the society starts being a little responsible for itself. We can all cry foul and point fingers at what is wrong, but it is our society, if we want a solution, we have to take action. It is about time that we start doing something about it and wait for someone else.
- Instead of looking for PM or Sachin or Shahrukh or Amir to help tackle the situation, we can try and think how we can help them realize these solutions. We are talking about a progressive society here, we are not in a place where we look up to someone to come and solve our problems, we have to help these people to find ways to help us out. It is a two way street and we have to meet them half way.
Having said this, I cannot claim that I can fathom the emotional turmoil women have gone through, this certainly is an issue. But this is not an issue which can be solved by a death penalty as claimed by Shenaz, these are the issues which can certainly be solved through so many other means where each one of us has to be a part and take action.
It is not about depending on someone else or some demigods to come and solve our issues. We are a society, we better start being a bit responsible. It is not about asking Amitabh or Amir or Shahrukh to go on a fast, it is about what she could have done from her vantage point – maybe lead a fast to Rashtrapathi Bhavan and invite these people to join. It is easy to ask or request someone else to do something, but what about taking the lead, what about being a little proactive?
I am sure that Amitabh or Amir or Shahrukh would not say no to a public invitation from the vantage point of Shenaz if she started something on this front. I might sound a little harsh here, but I do take issue when someone asks someone else to do something to solve their problems. The bigger question is – what they themselves are doing about it. Are they playing a bigger role in it. You can find people for support but it is a bit unreasonable to expect people to go out of their way to come and help you cos you face a problem.
The first question that comes to my mind is – what are you doing about it?
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References: NDTV Movies