Thoughts

Ladies only...

7:00 AM

This blog post is inspired by one of my regular reader and commenter (you know who you are), who pointed something very interesting in my previous post about the two men that refused to give their seats to women.

He pointed out the existence of a pink train in the Delhi metro that was meant for women with a unspoken goal to keep them safe. Which to him as a man is insulting, because what it actually teaches women is that all men are molesters and dangerous from which women should be protected at all cost. And guess what? I agree with him 100%, and I am a woman.

Ladies coach exist in Mumbai as well, with the same intent: keeping the ladies safe from men. There are also ladies bus, ladies cabs in some places, and in the past I remember reading articles about certain hotels feeling the need to make ladies only floor in their establishment. All with the express purpose to keep women safe from men. These ladies only enclosure are things I have seen only in India, nowhere else. And they never really fooled me. They are an aberration in the system, many applaud them as a good initiative and a solution to the crime against women issue. They aren't, their very existence is a symptom of a problem people would rather sweep under the rug, they are the proverbial band aid on a broken leg.

My reader pointed it rightfully, they are INSULTING. They are teaching us that men are predators, molester and evil beings from which women need to be shielded from. The problem is that not all men are evil, only a minority fews are, and the problem in India is not that there are more of them. It is that the conviction rate for these parasitic, lowlife scumbags is very low. A minority of men rape at will, demean women, treat them like objects, garbage, and deny them basic rights, and the authorities will blame the woman victim of their crap instead of jailing the criminal. These men's end up walking free, painting the country red, and giving the impression that ALL men in India are the same breed of assholery they are. Gasp gasp gasp, we need to keep our women safe from the Indian male! as whole their species is surely at fault. We must prevent crime against women, and because clearly it is no longer possible to keep women locked in the kitchen...let's keep them herded in Ladies only compartment, or offer GPS tracking on demand of their taxi and autos at night ass it is the case with a novel SMS service in Mumbai. That way their modesty will have a chance to be preserved. This is how our thinking heads think ladies and gents!

As a woman, I find the notion as INSULTING as my reader did, why oh why my lack of a certain genital should dictate what is safe and not safe for me? How is that my gender need to be told we need special trains and autos and hotel floors to be safe? What gives people the right to decide for me what is appropriate for me to do, or in what type of transport facility I need to shleped from A to B? Why? I am no fool, the message behind these ladies only coach is not a progressive one, they are here to remind me I am a woman and apparently worth less than a guy, so much less that I can't even be in charge of my own safety, on my own terms. It indeed teaches women that the entire male segment of the population is to be feared. And should she dare travelling in a non special need vehicle and meet with an unfortunate accident, she will be blamed regardless: "What were you doing travelling in the regular train? You invited that on yourself lady". Really? Once again the the only one benefiting from this segregation is the lowlife molester, he gets away with it, the victim is blamed, and every single men in India will bear the burnt of his act???ALL men are EVIL. I don't know how it sounds to most of you, to me it sounds sick.

So let's be clear on a number of points here. First NOT all men are evil and have only thought of rapes on their mind, far from it. There are hordes of very decent men, ready to fight for women and their freedom out there. And they have a right to be insulted by ladies only trains, I will support them here. Decent guys of India, speak up, you have the power to change how the nation...heck the world see your kind. In the same way any terrorist is an insult to the religion they claim to uphold high, these rapists and goons are an insult to your manhood, do not let them drag you down. Let's all fight for these few scumbags to get convicted, each an everytime they commit a crime, they do not deserve to go free and give you gentlemen a bad name, do not let that happen.

Secondly, ladies? Stop letting people make you fee inferior, you are not, you do not need a special treatment to feel safe, do not fall for it. Do not believe all men are born with better rights than you, that they can go out later out at night, that what you do or wear is what makes you get in trouble. Say no to victim blaming, know you have the power to fight, that a man molesting you, raping you and hurting you is NOT a man but a piece of scum. Fight for your right to have the same rights as men, and that mean the absolute right to frequent the same trains and busses as men, that you can stay in any hotel room, that mingling with the opposite sex is not a sin. Do not let people decide for you what is safe and isn't, you have a brain, you are a full fledged human being in your own right, and since you have the right to vote, that means you also have the right to be safe without government official telling you that the only way is through segregation. Join a self defense class, learn to kick butts, speak up, speak up in defense of the decent men whose names are dragged in the mud by that minority that paints them the wrong shade. Speak up for your own rights, and remember Eleanor Roosevelt's words "No one should be made inferior without their consent".

Parents, teach both your sons and daughters to mutually protect each other, tell them that they can both be whatever they want to be, there are no ladies only jobs and men only turfs. Not in our ages and time, not anymore. Boys can play with dolls, girls with cars, boys can cook and girls can fix things. Days have 24 hours for everyone and everyone should be free to use these the way they want, not be told the night is unsafe if you lack certain physical attributes.

And what about these ladies only seat in the previous blog post? Well if you ask me they should not be labelled that way, they should be marked for people in need : pregnant women, women with child, father with child, male and female disabled, and make and female senior citizens, like it is the case abroad. Perfectly abled young childless women can stand in a crowded metro just the same way a guy can and do not deserve a special treatment.

25 comments

  1. Alexandra Madhavan9:16 AM

    I totally agree.
    I feel men and women need to interact with each other MORE in a healthy way. Really, it's either you're married to a man or you can't even speak to a man!! I have seen the sexes be pulled apart at such a young age, with parents saying girls don't talk to the boys and vice versa....

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  2. Exactly, people of both genders are made to have apprehension and dislike for each other, being off limit to one another unless bound by matrimony, you can't expect the result of such segregation to be a healthy one. Another thing that I didn't mention, not only do I find ladies only space insulting, I find them also humiliating, not just to women but men as well.

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  3. No this not women empowerment, the breed of feminist that shouts foul at men, and try to elevate women to a status at which they are right by default over men is not feminism, it is extremism and serves only a desire for retaliation, nothing good comes out of that kind of ideology, it is terrorism to me. The real feminism, is as the author said, humanism. We want women to have the same rights as men, and certainly not at the expense of the other gender's freedom. The right to be out at certain hours, the right to wear certain clothes, without having to be shamed for doing so when the victim of a crime. The need of the hour is a better legal system, unbiased rational investigations that look at the facts without forming any judgement, and conviction of whoever is found the guilty party

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  4. Sadly there isn't that many fe mists that think the way I think and the way the author of that HT article does.

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  5. apple4:55 PM

    What women should wear and what is the correct time for them are issues which are either about cultural sensitivity or plain protection. Any indication of this fact then become an attack on women's freedom. Objectivity is the first casualty in such cases.
    We actually try to find the solution to our problems by looking at the west not withstanding the fact that they have reached a certain level in their social and historical journey which we have yet to achieve. It is is like trying to compare apples with oranges. This is not a criticism of western culture but at some point of time we have to admit what we are. We convenienty forget this and then go around in circles. Why do we get so defensive about it? The result is zero with lot of discussion. Most cases are actually about cultural sensivity which are then distorted to derail the discussions. I cannot put a finger on what is wrong but something is definately wrong in such discussions. It is like a wireless set set to a wrong frequency and receiving noise instead of information.
    Admited there is lot of hypocracy in Indian culture but so is there in other cultures. That hypocracy is then used to defend some good, bad, crazy all kinds of things.

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  6. Like you, I find it hard to pinpoint what is wrong but there is indeed something wrong.

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  7. apple2:39 PM

    I posed a question on one of the expat blogs about why in the west skin show is not frowned upon. She said that people really do not care about it, may be because of indivualism everybody does what he/she wants. There is such free mixing of sexes that after somet time it does not matter who wears what. Interstingly, they have a porn industry whose sole purpose is to sell sex. Their is very in your face kind of popular culture which celebrates these things. Very complicated.
    In India we associated nudity with sexuality. That is why we get uneasy with skin show at least in public life, bollywood being an abbreation because it is entertainment. This explains a lot of things like separation of sexes. Western people are more comfortable with their bodies but we are not. I think someone should bring out this basic difference between west and east so that a fruitfull discussion takes place. We do not understand these differences or pretend to ignore them. There is nothing good or bad about it. It is a cultural issue and we must respect it.

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  8. I think it is more of an issue of people being more used to mingling between genders in the West than the amount of flesh shown, because showing too much flesh is also considered gross in Switzerland, spaghetti tops and tank top is fine, exposing some tummy unless at the pool or beach...not so much.

    In Indian cities it is now more acceptable for women to wear shorts and cropped pants than it is in smaller cities and rural areas, the problem is that the mindset is still concervative and some will call the way these women dress obscene. My area is a cosmopolitan more well of area in Mumbai, women wearing shorts and skirts is something common, and people do not really care much. I roam around in t-shirts or short kurta paired with Capri on most days, I never got eve teased doing it, most women go walking and jogging in my enclave wearing shorts, I am yet to see a car wash guy, gardener or garbage collector staring in a lustful way...heck staring at all, to them it is common place here. I get stared at in a very unconfy way wearing a very concervative and properly Indian salwaar suit in Lucknow or In some areas of Delhi however. So can't really say that what I wear is really mattering since I got the lustful stares and comments passed when I was wearing traditional wear in one place and do not get even much more than a stare where I live in Mumbai wearing shorts.

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  9. I feel like these 'ladies only' endeavors are just a branch of an already barbaric ideal throughout India. The idea that women need protection has permeated the culture for far too long. It's not something that just happens in India but their idea of how to protect women is often shocking and offensive to many westerners.

    If you think about it, several holidays throughout Indian culture are designed where a female asks a male for protection. Either in the form of tying a band on her brother's wrist or something similar. It's a long standing tradition that women are the weaker sex and thus need protection from 'big bad men.' It gives little boys the impression that they're not going to grow up to be good people just like it does the girls. The mindset needs to be changed throughout the world.

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  10. Yes there is this idea that women need protection by default, and I find that humiliating to a great extent. I need a judicial system that will punish the culprit and not blame the victim, I don't need the government to come up with pink cans, pink trains, special SMS GPS tracking system for women. I refuse to believe what these service want me to believe : a) that women are weak and need special treatment and b) that men are to be feared. A vast majority if men are harmless and very decent yet they are made into monsters with these measures.

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  11. Also You might remember the blog post in which I shared a video about how movies and stories while having more assertive, empowered female characters that can fend for themselves also all still go by the pattern of "boy go on quest, save the world, win the girl". Which pretty much teaches girls they can be strong, but still teaches boys that they get the girl in the end just like a trophy for their efforts.

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  12. Abhishek Wadhwa2:04 AM

    The very notion of the fact that you assume that a lady carrying a child is helpless and weak is itself misogynist and sexist, much the same way we say women are second class citizens. Now, lets come to this pic.See the thing is,this way of maligning their(two guys) character publicly is not the way to go about it, the cause here is appreciated but at the same time we need to understand that we were not present there so we do not know as to what exactly transpired. It could be that these ladies were trying to get down to the next station and seeing those seats being vacated these guys sat on them knowing that there wasn't any other female right around them, which i have seen happen umpteen number of times in New Delhi. It could also be that they gave those seats just after this pic was taken or were going to give it to them, or that these ladies just entered the metro coach when the pic was taken. And if only u had looked more closely, the lady in the figure is looking at one of the guys with a sly grin, so it could also have been that she gave the seat on her own to these fellows who were in need of it. So there are multiple reasons to it, we are just speculating on a grand scale For the moment at least we can do away by not using such high animosity language on them,unless otherwise you have already assumed them to be guilty and believe the entire 620 million Indian men(more than twice America's entire population and Eighty times entire Switzerland's population) behave in the same way like they do. If that were to be the case,then we would have had flurry of such instances running through Indian dailies. Can we really judge them by looking at a pic which shows an incident worth fraction of a second? I agree the most plausible reason here seems to be; them being arrogant and stubborn of not giving their seats.But we are not sure as we weren't present there and i wonder had the roles been reversed, would we publicly defame any girl on a social site? Even during cases when someone is accused of Rape, their faces are hidden ,not because its unintentional, rather its due to the fact that according to Indian Law "A person is innocent unless proven guilty". They did not do anything illegal. Immoral if it is? a resounding yes, but only if we are to have concrete evidence to what we believe in.I repeat the cause is to be appreciated "BUT" not by shaming them, not by showing their faces publicly,not by hurling shoes at them,not wanting them to be burnt alive as few people mentioned on twitter,for we are the ones who feel that those who leak MMS, pics without anyone's consent to be illegal, immoral and detest them unequivocally and here we are doing pretty much the same thing without thinking twice over it .No ,men are not Demi-gods in India,if u think so, you have possibly had all kinds of cohorts who unfortunately think so.Yes ours is not as much egalitarian a society as you have in the west.We wish we had it, though.a We have abysmal literacy rate, widespread patriarchy,social issues much towards women,but that has a long history and it takes a lot of time to have unity, equality and sense of feminism coupled with proper civic values on such a divided society.Just taking this isolated incident and generalizing it on the entire male fraternity of India(which is huge) is hitting bellow the bell and a great bit of disservice to all Indian Men and Women too who are trying to improve the society and bring in equality inspite of the political and social hurdles that they manage to face and successfully endure.I agree we do need to work on our civic sense and courteousness but at-least we don't do moral policing without taking into account "Human Rights' like the Western powers do.

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  13. Abhishek Wadhwa2:54 AM

    Well, i would slightly disagree with you on this. I would not completely agree to you when you say that Indian men are not at all hospitable towards women.They actually are, but concerning the enormity of our population which keeps on exploding, the number of such incidences being brought up by the media outnumbers to that of any other country.Taking up a few examples of upcoming and developed nations; I don't know whats the situation there is in China, but considering it is moving towards totalitarianism so one does't know not if its media and social outlets are as transparent as that of any democratic set-up. South-Africa being a democracy has higher number of rape cases than us ,Indians, so not sure if they are hospitable towards their own women. In USA ,ironically, it happens to epitomize itself when it comes to crime as heinous as rape and at least 1 out of 5 women are eve-teased much like it happens here in India. UK has wide income inequality and off-late violence against women has surged.
    Yes, women are being conceived of being the weaker sex in certain strata of our society but i believe quite a form of inequality exists everywhere, else we possibly would have had much the same number of women in the board of big companies,high political positions which is clearly not the case apart from a few European countries.


    Real issue is the lack of education, sensitization coupled with widespread appalling presence of male machismo at certain section of our society normally tends to dominate the news and views of India more of often than them being liberated and reaching up to higher ranks by breaking up all the glass ceilings.But over the past decade these kinds of incidents have become lesser than one would have thought.

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  14. Abhishek Wadhwa2:57 AM

    Well, i would slightly disagree with you on this. I would not completely agree to you when you say that Indian men are not at all hospitable towards women.They actually are, but concerning the enormity of our population which keeps on exploding, the number of such incidences being brought up by the media outnumbers to that of any other country.Taking up a few examples of upcoming and developed nations; I don't know whats the situation there is in China, but considering it is moving towards totalitarianism so one does't know not if its media and social outlets are as transparent as that of any democratic set-up. South-Africa being a democracy has higher number of rape cases than us ,Indians, so not sure if they are hospitable towards their own women. In USA ,ironically, it happens to epitomize itself when it comes to crime as heinous as rape and at least 1 out of 5 women are eve-teased much like it happens here in India. UK has wide income inequality and off-late violence against women has surged.

    Yes, women are being conceived of being the weaker sex in certain strata of our society but i believe quite a form of inequality exists everywhere, else we possibly would have had much the same number of women in the board of big companies,high political positions which is clearly not the case apart from a few European countries.

    Real issue is the lack of education, sensitization coupled with widespread appalling presence of male machismo at certain section of our society which normally tends to dominate the news and views on India more often than the women being liberated of traditional roles and reaching up to higher ranks by breaking all the glass ceilings.


    But over the past decade though these kinds of disrespectful incidents have become lesser than one would have thought.

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  15. Please don't change my words. I said that Indian hospitality is not the same as western hospitality. I never said Indians don't have hospitality toward women.

    Also, I said the whole world struggles with inequality, that includes the US and India both.

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  16. Abhishek Wadhwa3:26 AM

    I agree.But unfortunately the kind of repute that we have managed to develop towards the Western world,one often wonders and is left in a state of dilemma whenever one tends to compare both the cultures which are so much different in all respects.

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  17. Have you carried a child in a moving transport? The women doing so are not weak, but are more accident prone, the constant stopping and going of a public transport means you are constantly compensating to stand, carrying a child on one hip affect your personal center of gravity, and balance, it becomes hard per to compensate standing up.

    Funny you give lesson on moral policing like that, because India is doing it more and more and far more than whee I grew up. We don't need to beep the word breast feeding in an epiode of friends where I grew up, or pretend the words penis, and vagina do not exist, or cut a dance scene in True Lies while item numbers in Bollywood are equally raunchy if not more and still allowed. The recent censorship is going of the charts on TV wasn't so when I first arrived in India.

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  18. Abhishek Wadhwa10:08 AM

    I have just gotten out of my teenage and not married yet, so unfortunately i never had the privilege to carry one in a public transport. Having said that ,I completely acknowledge the technical aspects that you brought up with it. But there's every reason to believe that those ladies were able to endure all that and probably didn't feel the need to sit on those seats. For, a women carrying a child doesn't automatically become weak or dwarfed in front of her male counterparts,or i have seen those who don't. Anyway,these men should have given her the seat on moral courtesy though.


    Its amusing that we are getting lessons on moral policing from the West, where some of the Western powers and their NATO allied forces have invaded every country where they could get their vested interests satisfied; be it the gulf nations, Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, South-East-Asia and many more ,where they have possibly managed to violate all forms of existing international laws and human rights awfully, horrendously without having an iota of sense for the nation's territorial integrity, dignity and respect .So on that front i am glad that India is not even one-tenth as close as them.


    You might not want to beep up words which we find objectionable as no-one is asking you to do so either.As far as that Bollywood and Western representation of movies are concerned, you were right, we(Indians) do not grow up in an environment where it is acceptable to use such word in a public sphere and there still exists a huge cultural difference between us and them. It is actually naive to try to compare and juxtapose them on that front. It simply doesn't make any sense.Whether Item numbers should be allowed or not!? I believe it should be left as a personal choice of an actress.
    PS- I do not like those raunchy item songs personally.

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  19. Abhishek Wadhwa12:32 AM

    For that matter Brits ruled us for more than 300 years, so i would imagine if it took that much time to exhaust us of all our resources and gave us very little in the form of railways and basic education in English, it can overhaul within just 60 odd years.


    Industrialization came late in our country ,in the late nineties to be precise and its trickle down effect takes a lot of time considering the enormity of population that we have.

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  20. Abhishek Wadhwa12:39 AM

    India during the Mughal Period was the major contributor of the world economy with more that 40 percent of its share ,and that figure now languishes at around less than 2 percent.The Brits ruled us for more than 300 years, to exhaust us of all our natural and conventional resources per se.


    So, i would imagine you cannot expect India to redeem itself in just a span of 60 years. Considering the fact that globalization,privatization and industrialization truly came into being here in the early nineties and its trickle down effect we are starting to reap now,the process still quite slow though, but still we are far from where the big players are, courtesy they boarded the train early in terms of their economic revolution.

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  21. Abhishek Wadhwa12:45 AM

    India during the Ancient Period was the major contributor of the world economy with more that 40 percent of its share ,and that figure now languishes at around less than 2 percent. The Brits ruled us for more than 300 years, to exhaust us of all our natural and conventional resources per se.

    So, i would imagine you cannot expect India to redeem itself in just a span of 60 years taking into account its enormity of population,pluralistic culture and diversity of people leading which there are ethnic and religious clashes much the same way its happens in the middle east, not that greater a scale may be. Also,considering the fact that globalization,privatization and industrialization truly came into being here in the early nineties and its trickle down effect we are starting to reap now, the process of which is still quite slow, but still we are far from where the big players are, courtesy they boarded the train early in terms of their economic revolution.

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  22. apple3:04 PM

    There is some problem with disque. It just shuts down and the comments space does not open up. It is happening with amazing regularity. BTW it is not pink train but the first coach in every metro train which is reserved for ladies. The spot where the coach comes to a halt is marked by a pink sign on the platform. Hence the name "pink coach".
    Tomorrow was Holi. Happy holi to you and your family. I hope you celebrated holi. Harrassement of women is a big problem at Holi. Women actually dread this festival. For many days before holi people throw colours and water ballons at them. Men are also at the receiving end of such things but it is women who suffer most. In colleges and hostels, gates are closed for women's safety. It is most unfortunate that women of India are unable to lead normal life due to this harrassment. Are women not supposed to enjoy holi like men?? Men celebrate holi, while women don't. Even in closed groups, most men and women prefer not to put colour on each other.
    Holi is about break down of inhibitions, religion and gender and enjoy. Most men drink and break loose. We face this problem but not willing to look for solutions. The solutions is better interactions between the sexes. That is the only way both men and women would be able to know each other. We don't know what tremendous damage we have done to both the sexes. Women are forever frightened of men and men become this angry, pervert, frustrated often maniacal creature. They are like springs twisted to their extremes just waiting to spring open. What have we done, good lord!!
    As one women rightly said that we are told all our lives to be beware of men and then send off to live with a strange man for life. Physical intimacy comes often as a rude surprise to both the man and women.

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  23. .. not quite related to this topic but I had to comment.. My MIL believes that boy babies need to be showered with more attention and care than a girl baby because girls can survive apparently no matter what they are fed and boys needed to be treated with care. Fortunately I had a boy baby.... but everytime I hear that statement my blood boils. I have tried convincing my husband that her logic is all screwed up but I wanted to highlight this as one of the reasons for the age old custom as to why boys are given so much preference when serving food , apparently gals can survive on crap! - and this coming from a lady!

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  24. .. not quite related to this topic but I had to comment.. My MIL believes that boy babies need to be showered with more attention and care than a girl baby because girls can survive apparently no matter what they are fed and boys needed to be treated with care. Fortunately I had a boy baby.... but everytime I hear that statement my blood boils. I have tried convincing my husband that her logic is all screwed up but I wanted to highlight this as one of the reasons for the age old custom as to why boys are given so much preference when serving food , apparently gals can survive on crap! - and this coming from a lady!

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  25. Wow! That makes me boil too. I think it is less than girls can survive in crap than it is about this deep rooted belief that boys are precious and need to be pampered and treated specially, if a girl dies...it was "just" a girl :-(

    And yes it is scary that women are perpetuating these crazy beliefs in the first place...sigh!

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