Just imagine that you had walked into an ATM to draw some cash or, say, you were on your way to a wedding dressed in a reasonable amount of gold jewellery. As you were approaching your car what if someone slit your throat and stole your cash or jewellery? Whose fault do you think it is? The person who slit your throat or your own fault? Would you accept that it is your fault to have done something that is totally legitimate for people to do? Of course, you can always choose to never draw cash from an ATM or to never get out of your car or maybe not to go out alone to draw cash from an ATM. Those are possibly fear measures or safety measures you would take to protect yourself.
It infuriates me to think that every time a rape or murder of a young girl is reported, people say: “she must have done something to deserve it”, “wonder what she was wearing?’, or “why did she go there?” or ” She asked for it because she was hanging out with her friends” and so on…
Have you ever considered everything that a girl has to think of before she steps out of her house for her own safety? Well, here are a few thoughts that possibly run through her mind:
“What should I wear to not attract rape?”
“What time is it? Is it safe to go out now?”
“Wait! Is this a safe place to go to?”
Why should we always live in fear of being violated? What about girls who are very young and probably are not even aware that there are sexual predators around? I remember reading a comment once on social media: “this is why girls should be kept in the house locked up!”. Is this how we stay safe? Well, what about abuse that happens at home?
I am not saying here that we shouldn’t stay safe. But why do we stray from recognizing who the real offender is? Why are we not able to rally enough support to raise the bar on women’s safety at the workplace, in public spaces, in schools and at home?
Let’s remember that what we really need to battle is society’s mindset towards women. And yes, we surely need to work on measures that ensure a woman’s safety in all spheres by taking all practical steps necessary – be it through fixing CCTV cameras in public spaces and campuses or lighting up dark alleys or by reporting stalkers and eve-teasers. We do need to increase safety awareness among people. We need to educate children, both girls and boys on safety. But more importantly, let’s teach them to respect the other. Teaching young boys to respect girls at home and at school will go a long way in ensuring a safe world. Teach them to challenge injustice towards women. Teach them to challenge age-old mindsets that dictate that a woman stays safe when she is locked up somewhere!
Founder & Director
Women of Worth
Yash Shankar, the artist.
Dark is beautiful had a splendid opportunity to be a part of a solo exhibition titled “Kaali Kali”, by Yash Shankar that celebrated body positivity and diversity among women with the theme majorly focusing on skin colour discrimination. We love supporting and encouraging young artists like Yash who beautifully express their thoughts through their artwork. DISB has stood for celebrating diversity of all skin shades and body types ever since our inception and partnering with a like minded artist was refreshing. We leave you with a small excerpt on the young artist and what kindled her to do an exhibition that had been brewing in her mind for a long time.
Yash Shankar, is an undergraduate student of Applied Psychology and Global Public Health at NYU. She grew up travelling and moving from country to country with her family, and as she learned more about each culture, the one thing that stood out for her was the discrimination minority groups faced. Having faced discrimination based on her skin colour from a very young age; from kindergarten to be precise and as she grew a little older it slowly became slut shaming and sexism. Talking about this she said, “I can’t remember a time at which I have been treated fairly for who I am. What was once blatantly offensive, became subtler and more widely accepted in society every day. By the time I got to college, I realized that the society that I was now a part of, was built on discrimination; as was the society I came from. Everywhere I turned, I saw my culture being appropriated, and before I had the words to describe this, all I had was a feeling of discomfort at people manipulating a culture they didn’t fully understand. I had always known double standards to be a part of my life, but as I grew and further understood this, I started to realize I didn’t have to be okay with it. I could see my culture everywhere, but I could never see my people. India got independence from Britain, almost 70 years ago, but people of colour to this day remain trapped inside a system that constantly benefits from them but never works to benefit them.”
When we quizzed her about the exhibition she said, “I have been learning about race and feminism, I have realized that though I cannot be happy about my position in the world today, I don’t have to be sad like I once was. I can get angry. I can get angry for myself, and I can get angry for my people. But I also know anger is not the solution. I would rather steer all that anger positively and bring about a change in my own way. Doing this exhibition –an exhibition that celebrates the everyday dark Indian woman- has allowed me to take a small step in fixing an impossibly large problem. Working on these paintings has inspired me to fight for the freedom and opportunities that I deserve, and I hope that in the future women of colour can come together and support each other to do the same.
When I was 5 years old, I lived in Bangkok and had no friends. When my teacher asked me what I would like the most, I innocently told her that I would, for one day, like everyone to ignore the fact that I had dark skin. Now that I’ve grown up, I don’t want to ignore that part of me anymore at all. I want to celebrate it and embrace it; one of the ways I achieved this is when I hosted an art exhibition in Chennai at Lakshana Art Gallery.I thank Dark is Beautiful for their support towards my cause and for readily partnering with me.”
Do you wonder, what’s gone missing in the world when you hear of brutal incidents of rape, murder, domestic violence and other forms of physical abuse? What makes people resort to such inhuman behaviour? Yes, there lies the clue. It is inhuman. When someone loses their soul within which is the seat of love, honour and respect they do become inhuman. In a culture that very often does not associate respect with women or for women, we have this important task to do. We need to tell the world that what women need the most is not diamonds, flowers and chocolates but respect.
Respect is that sublime choice we make to value another person irrespective of their status, creed, gender or colour. Respect is not what we usually associate it with. It is more than a ritualistic practice. It is an attitude. It is a way of life. I choose to respect another person simply because they are human.
Respect is a principle by which you operate. It defines the way you treat people and let others treat you. To cultivate respect, I need to start with respecting myself first. I have met women who feel they deserve the abuse they are facing. When you respect yourself you will not tolerate anyone treating you without respect. Abuse is not to be tolerated at any cost. So, let’s start with knowing and believing that our value and worth are innate and therefore no matter who we are, we deserve to be treated with respect. When we value and respect ourselves we find it easy to extend it to others. People who resort to violent behaviour often suffer issues of low self-worth and self-acceptance. This is often released without as violence or manipulative and abusive control.
Respect does not force opinions on you. Respect respects your choice. Respect is an attitude. Respect does not pass lewd comments. Respect does not backbite or character assassinate. Respect is not dependent on how you feel at a particular moment. When you make it your priority it is reflected in your behaviour at all times.
Women and men deserve respect. Children and the elderly need respect. Poor and rich need respect. Respect is the next best thing to love. Respect is what will make the world a better place!
From the Directors Desk,