I took a hiatus from Twitter a few days ago. It was getting too addictive. Anyway, when I’m at work, there isn’t much I can tweet about and after trying hard to have something meaningful or funny to say, while focusing on my work and switching off every other hour to tweet, I resolved that I won’t unless I’m spurred to do so spontaneously. Today, I was more outraged and angry than I have been for some time at the incredibly shocking reports of women being subjected to inhuman atrocities in different parts of the country. When I read about the molestation of the teenager in Guwahati by a sick mob, no less, I shuddered at the helplessness, humiliation and pain the girl must have undergone. What kind of men are these who prey upon the vulnerable and who gang up to revel and jeer, as they violate an innocent? What is it that emboldens them or gives them the impetus to act in a manner that is not just deplorable, but downright inhuman? It’s not a depraved mindset alone; it’s a far greater malaise: a cancer that grows out of a lethal combination of a patriarchal core, an environment that fosters it, laws that have no teeth, state machinery that is inept, callous and passive and probably earlier incidents of travesty of justice. All of it clearly emboldens such predators, who are convinced that they can get away with blue murder and that if they don’t, they will probably have to pay a very negligible price.
When I tweeted about the incident to express solidarity with the victim, I wasn’t merely paying lip service. At that point of time, sitting at my desk, that was all that I could do. Time and again, I have experienced the blues about not being able to do enough for the cause of women’s empowerment and felt utterly debilitated when, even after writing about these atrocities for years like so many others do with earnestness and honesty, I’ve seen that something new and horrendous always assails women. That the agony never seems to end. That laws prove impotent. That implementation fails to act as a strong deterrent. This warped permanence can make one a diehard cynic. And it takes constant prodding to not get into the, “Nothing will ever change” mode. In fact, it’s a daily battle. But, I refuse to wring my hands in despair and deduce that a word of protest (whether in the form of a tweet or a slogan) registered on a social networking site will make no dent at all. Tweets may be mere pygmies compared to the words penned by great thinkers, but they have a life, a potency, a decibel of their own to collectively create the kind of noise that is required to be made to wake up whoever needs to be shaken up to take charge of the situation and bring the guilty to book.
I‘m not the police, I’m not the Chief Minister of a state, I’m not a Human Rights Activist (though the upholding of human rights is a subject close to my heart), I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a rabid feminist. I’m a mere human being who is incensed by the shocking extent of the contamination of the society I live in and unglued by the fact that I have to still look over my shoulder and keep my ears pricked to detect the footfalls of stalkers, molesters and rapists. While I can’t go out on the streets to fight the monsters, the one thing that I can do is write about the angst I experience when a woman’s right to dignity is infringed upon. A word, many words, a tweet, an article, a column. I don’t nurture grand illusions that my tweets or words will cause the earth to convulse or make a molester surrender or turn over a new leaf. But, I will have registered my protest, however insignificant, when one of my tribe is devoured. That is important to me.
As I write, I pledge that I will guard my cell phone with my life and not think of it as just another electronic accessory. I am broke but will go shopping. And above all, I will guard my right to dignity and safety. Actually, it’s time I went to the local pub with my women friends! Who dares stop me?