Heart & Soul: We need to rethink the mindset on equality

  • Family
  • Saturday, 14 Mar 2015

A woman protests against domestic violence as she joins other womens rights advocates in an International Womens Day march in downtown Los Angeles, California on March 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON

Women are not on equal ground with men if they cannot even walk on the streets alone without fear.

Just recently, International Women’s Day was celebrated all around the globe. When I opened my Instagram account and scrolled down the pictures, all I could see were posts on Women’s Day, women’s rights and equality.

It was the same thing when I opened Facebook. My wall was filled with posts about women. Being a woman myself, I am extremely proud. I am proud that people appreciate and respect women for who they are. When you think about it, women have definitely come a very long way.

We are now no longer looked upon as individuals who are only capable of cooking, cleaning and giving birth. Women are able to stand on par with men, hold high-ranking jobs, enter universities and lead the nation. Women are capable of doing all these while still being able to cook, clean and look after their families.

But all these are just the big things. No one really seems to notice the little, everyday things that deprive women and girls. Let’s look at the equality we claim we have achieved.

Firstly, I would like to highlight a rape incident that happened in 2012. A girl from India boarded a bus around 9pm after having watched a movie with her friend. She was brutally raped in that bus, and no one came to her aid. Quoting the bus driver, “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.” People “had a right to teach them a lesson,” he suggested, adding that the woman should have put up with it.

Then, in a different part of the world, in a Middle Eastern country, a woman was “awarded” 200 lashes for being raped. Why? Because she dared to walk in the streets alone.

Is this the so-called equality that we are to be proud off?

Although in Malaysia, we rarely encounter such detrimental cases, it is undeniable that there have been similar cases here. Is it wrong for a girl to go out? Is it wrong for a girl to watch a movie with her friends? Is it wrong for her to use public transport? Is it wrong for a woman to fight back when she is assaulted? Is she supposed to be taught a lesson by the public for just enjoying herself?

In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing indecent about going out for a movie with a friend and returning at 9pm. The poor girl did nothing indecent by boarding a bus back home. It was those rapists that were indecent, characterless and immoral to even think about doing such a thing.

Parents think twice before sending their daughters out these days. How can a parent not worry about the safety of their daughters when the world has become such a cruel place? Women are not able to do what they want just because of such people.

But if a man were to go out, watch a movie, come home late, get drunk, and do everything and anything he wanted to, nobody would question him.

Why? Because he is a boy. He is a man. There can be no way that he would be in the wrong. On the other hand, if a woman were to even think of such things, she would immediately be deemed immoral.

So, in my opinion, the concept of “equality” has not fully been realised. Women are still not able to live freely; they have not attained the same freedom which men have gained so effortlessly. Girls are not able to walk freely on her own without being judged, and live their lives without constantly being in fear.

I am sure that at least once in her life if not more often, every girl would have felt discriminated against in some way. She would have been denied the freedom of doing something that she wanted to just because she was not a boy.

I feel that this mindset has to change. We have to work together and work harder to make the world a safer place for women. We have to understand that women are more than just individuals who are capable and strong.

Women should be able to do what they want to without being discriminated against and being fearful. Only then can we truly say that we have achieved equality.

■ Do you have any real-life, heart-warming stories to share with readers? E-mail them to star2.heart@thestar.com.my. We’d love to hear from you.

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