Monday, November 3, 2008

The Anandita Mishras of India

Post the Pune Rape case where a young single woman, working for a BPO and living by herself, was raped by her colleagues, many single women working in Pune came out with horror stories of how they were considered easy targets by their male colleagues because they were staying alone.

I remember this one woman’s story in the Hindustan Times every time I look at a Maggi Noodle pack! This young woman had tried her best to hide from her small-minded colleagues that she had no family in Pune but a mega, ‘supersaver’ Maggi Noodles pack – a refuge for many singletons with no time to cook - gave her away. And from then on the comments and sleazy remarks from her male colleagues began. “Can I drop you home?”, “Don’t you feel lonely?”.

I have noticed, in Bombay too, the first time you meet a guy he’s aching to know if you stay “alone”. “Are you a PG?” (Bombay parlance for “living by yourself”) is his second question after “What’s your name?”

While it’s too early to comment on the murder of the 31-year-old Reliance Employee, Anandita Mishra, there are whispers that she was an ‘easy’ target because she was a divorcee who lived with an aging mother and a spastic child!

I am reminded of the grim reality – that single working women in India, living away from their homes – are still not given the due respect they deserve. They’re independent, brave and ambitious, and represent the new Indian woman. But there is a very big chunk of this country that’s filled with bigots (both male and female) resistant to change. And in a country of a billion and counting, that’s millions and millions of mindsets to change.

“Fight-Back” has a long road ahead…

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