Bhubaneswar: We have evolved from the time when women were meant and allowed to spend their lives in the kitchen and the four-walls of the house, to a time where women are excelling in all walks of life, from sports, to science, entertainment, entrepreneurship, bureaucracy and politics. Today’s women are empowered. But, how safe do they feel in a society that gives wings to their aspirations and at the same time, draws their limitations!
As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, Sambad English spoke exclusively to women from all walks of life about how safe they feel in today’s society. Here’s what they said:
- Namrata Chadha, Woman Activity
“As an activist, I believe the day we stop celebrating Women’s Day, we will consider that women are empowered. Most people don’t feel secure in our society and sadly women are a major part in that count. Be it at home, or workplace or even a out shopping, women deal with eve-teasing and harassment. But they pretend to feel safe as they have to step out, go to study or work. They don’t share this with family fearing that they might not be allowed to step out of the house again.
There is still a lot of gender discrimination and inequality in our society. So, it is high time we shift our focus from ‘beti ko bachao’ to ‘bete ko shikhao’ “
- Meenakshi Samal, Home maker
“I feel quite safe in my house and love to go out but only when my husband is with me. As a homemaker, I spend more of my time taking care of my family and that gives me a sense of security but when I step out, there’s always an awkward feeling that I might face some sort of eve-teasing if I am out alone.”
- Sujata Mohapatra, Odissi dancer and Guru
“We are God’s beautiful creation and I believe the Almighty has given us the wisdom and power to ensure our safety. And then there’s the work we do and the friends we have. If I get into some trouble, be it in the late hours of the evening, I know I can count on any of my friends to just come for my rescue. So, it is very important for every woman to be strong, graceful and have a positive energy. That helps solve a lot of problems.”
- Rashmita Behera, Student
“The society is supposed to be safe for us all but I don’t feel safe anywhere. Every day, there’s news about harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence and rape and sadly, our society always blames the victim and normalizes the wrong that men do. We really need to change that mentality. Perhaps then, then women could feel safe.”
- Dr Aishwarya Biswal, Politician
“There are many issues like gender inequality and problems at workspace that women face in their everyday lives. Of course, we are eventually finding solutions and evolving. People’s perception on women being equal to men is gradually developing in the society too. But, atrocities towards women still exist. For, example, Nirbhaya fought for women’s rights on her death bed and became an inspiration for generations to come.
It’s true that we have come a long way as far as women empowerment is concerned but, the numbers of rapes and exploitation have increased. Talking about our state, on an average, seven women get raped, four girls get raped or sexually exploited and many girls go missing.
So, we still need security to address those issues.”
- Geetashree Roy, Professor
When I reckon how safe I feel in society today, the first thought that comes to me is my age. I am sixty now and perhaps safe!
Do women need to grow old to feel safe is the question that haunts me? As a college teacher, the hundreds of girl students that I have met ,tutored and had considerable interactions with ,express how they feel restricted, judged and insecure about how high they will be permitted to fly by society or even their own parents.
Today the Glass Ceiling is a little raised for them, but impending of newer forms of suppression. As long as women do not get due respect in society as individuals , or earn the luxury of free will or assume the power to dissent ,the horrors of lust-driven atrocities as like a Hathras or a Pari will shame us. And apologetically, women teachers like me will continue to inspire students to fly but simultaneously clip their wings with caution ,out of fear !