We’re told to carry pepper spray, to check the child lock while getting into Ubers and not to leave our drinks unattended at parties.
I’m extra cautious while traveling alone. I look back twice while walking down empty streets in the dark.
I’m constantly checking the GPS on my phone in Ubers and sigh with relief when my driver is a woman.
Recently, my mom sent me a long message about a rape case. The message described the encounter, how it happened and precautions women should take to avoid similar situations.
While the message was well-intentioned and sent from a place of concern, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why are women always asked to take these precautions? Why aren’t people told not to rape? Why aren’t they taught to respect women? Why is the chain text going around asking women to take precautions instead of asking men not to view women as objects?
We should be teaching people to respect women and view them as equals.
Instead of tightening dress codes in schools, boys need to be taught to not objectify women and need to be punished for inappropriate behavior. People need to stop using phrases such as “boys will be boys” and “if he is mean to you, that means he likes you.” I constantly see articles, social media posts and even people in my life telling me how to avoid being raped.
I’m sick of it.
The victims of other crimes are never asked to take precautions to avoid it, nor are they scrutinized and blamed for its occurrence. This is a fundamental problem in the way we think and talk about rape as a society.
Asking women to take these precautions transfers the burden of its occurrence to the victim. To a certain extent, it takes away the responsibility from the perpetrator.
The root of this problem is that our society has been dominated by the patriarchy for ages. Although we have progressed and women are competing with men, it has been ingrained deeply in our brains that women are weaker than men, that somehow we are secondary citizens.
We want to say that we have progressed because compared to the ‘50s or the ‘60s women are better off.
But better isn’t enough anymore.
We need to be treated as equals. We need to be respected.
On average 433,648 rapes are reported annually in the U.S. And around 34,000 in India–– my home country–– in 2018, where violence against women has been rampant to the extent that the U.K. and U.S. have even issued a travel safety advisory in 2019. Neither number includes unreported rapes.
Despite this, I don’t see politicians talking about women’s safety, it is not an agenda on their campaign promises. The judicial process for rape cases isn’t being fast-tracked. The only people truly fighting for women’s safety and rights are other women and very few men.
We need to change the way we talk about rape and we need to shift the way women are viewed in society.
When rape is highlighted in the media, rather than just asking women to be more careful, get outraged. Promote that committing these atrocities is inhumane. Pressure the judicial system to give faster, stricter sentences to these abusers, irrespective of their status.
I don’t want to see another message teaching me the precautions to avoid rape.
I’m tired and angry. I want to live without fear. I want my parents to be at peace when I go out alone at night.
I’m not asking for a lot. It is my basic right as a human and your duty to treat me with respect.
Vindhya Burugapalli is a senior multimedia editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @moonhorizon__
Vindhya Burugupalli is the engagement editor for The Spectrum. She loves traveling and documenting her experiences through mp4s and jpegs. In her free time, she can be found exploring cute coffee shops and food spots.