By Asha Devi
When you commented on my physique, you did not think twice about the inappropriateness of it – in fact, you thought nothing of further associating it with the beauty of my daughter Jyoti, who is no longer alive, who died such a brutal death.
But after making these abominable comments, your advice to young girls is what crossed all limits, I feel. You said that if someone overpowers you, then what a girl should do in that moment is surrender, because at least that way, she will live.
Not only did you disrespect the fight that my daughter put up in those monstrous moments, you also displayed the sick, patriarchal attitudes of our society at large. My daughter’s rapists too had expressed a similar thought – how they could not tolerate the fact that she was fighting back. It is indeed a matter of great shame that the thinking of the so-called caretakers of society such as yourself and the thinking of the criminals, seem to me, to be exactly the same.
You are perpetuating the same regressive attitudes we’ve been living with all our lives as women, telling girls again and again, that they must remain weak, that no matter what, they must keep making compromises with the ugly situations they find themselves in. And when someone forces himself on you, you must make your peace with it, so that he deigns to spare you, your life.
In the end, I would also like to ask you if the same advice should be given to our Indian soldiers too? Shall we say to them, those who protect our borders day and night, that the next time you are attacked, you must throw up your arms, and surrender? At least our soldiers’ lives will be saved.
(Sangliana made these objectionable comments during a Women’s Day event in Bangalore on 9th March, where a few women were being honoured, and Asha Devi had been invited as a special guest.)
This open letter, drafted in Hindi, by Asha Devi and Khabar Lahariya, first appeared on Khabar Lahariya.