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Are we Indians really ready for a change?

Are we really ready for real change?

Every now and then there is something disturbing or unpleasant that happens and makes you uncomfortable. You start thinking about the disturbing event and really think that there must be some changes made to stop such unpleasant things. It is not just you that thinks that way but everyone that has witnessed or is aware of the unpleasant thing, feels a change is highly needed to stop such events from occurring the future!

To put an example, let's talk about the current burning issue that India is talking about, Dr. Priyanka Reddy who has been kidnapped, gang-raped and then burnt alive on an early morning in Hyderabad- Bengaluru highway. I don't even know what to say for such a horrific act. Obviously, everyone right now in India is talking about how women don't feel safe and how something must be done immediately to make our women feel safer.

Even though I agree that strong government policies and legislation, a police force that provides protection etc. are some of the things needed to provide a safer space for Indian woman, but I strongly believe that those things are not simply going to make a shielded space for women to live in India. There is enormous work that needs to be done in re-shaping the society that we as Indians live in and the most basic thing starts from within our homes and our families. There is way too much un-learning that needs to happen for the men of our Indian society where they have been totally raised to claim their position of power in the patriarchal society. Although I am not merely hinting that rape culture is just a by-product of patriarchy, but I am simply using this current news event to talk about how we need to actually start making changes in our daily lives on immediate basis to make our women safe in Indian homes and streets.

Our responsibility doesn't stop by acknowledging that a change needs to be made or condemning the horrendous act of rape/ kidnapping/ murder of Dr. Priyanka Reddy and such other victims or survivors. The fire that ignites with such acts needs to transform into actions. And those actions are meant to be taken by everyone of us including the Indian diaspora living out the country.

Our women will start feeling safe when we stop discriminating against them from the time of their birth. Our men will be more comfortable when not stereotyped in Bollywood cliches like, 'Mard ko dard nahi hota' (meaning A real man doesn't feel pain). If women and girls in your home can sit the way they want to or talk the way they want to or dress the way they want to, with men around unlearning their roles in the patriarchal Indian society and rather participating in the society around without any so called 'inherent' powers of being a man, women in India will start feeling safe.

This is my piece in an effort to 'Orange the world' #orangetheworld. It is heartbreaking that while the UN is focusing this year on the theme 'Orange the world: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape' to prevent & eliminate the violence against women and girls, there is a horrendous incident with Dr. Priyanka Reddy that surfaces in India.

Lets join hands and work on breaking the patriarchy (in context specifically to the Indian / South-Asian cultures) that enables violence including sexual violence. This work cannot be done only by empowering women. Men have to equally participate in making the streets and homes safe.

This work doesn't just involve waiting for the government or respective authorities sentencing the convicts of horrendous acts again women.

This work requires the change to start RIGHT NOW!

This work demands that you as a woman start raising your voice against any inequalities, whether it be within your homes or workplace.

This work calls for you as a man to start listening to conversations that may be uncomfortable to you or put you on the defensive side. Hear out when your own power as being a man in a patriarchal society is challenged and consciously act on unlearning the domination that has come to you for generations because of your gender!


Dhara Shah

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