Dear Mr. Chief Minister
I am a woman. And I don’t like it when my safety is taken lightly.
I don’t feel safe no matter where I go. As soon as I step out of my house, I have to be careful of the lecherous gaze and the leering men; the whistles and the vulgar comments; the groping hands and the accidental touches. I have to fight the patriarchal culture which tells me that I am not welcome on the roads and the kitchen is where I belong. I am asked to dress appropriately so that it doesn’t look like I am asking for it. I am given with a pepper spray and hundreds of guidelines, Mr Chief Minister. Because I am a woman and it falls upon me to protect myself from rapists. Because if something happens to me it is always going to be my fault. I will be blamed for bringing it upon me.
I am a woman, sir. Always scared for my life and well-being. Maybe this is why you agreed to allow me free of cost travel in Delhi metro and DTC buses. Because I am a woman and this will keep me safe. But I need to tell you something Mr Chief Minister.
I took a rickshaw yesterday to go to the metro station. And the rickshaw puller didn’t stop until I screamed. No, sir, I am not impolite. I had to scream. I really had to because he won’t stop even when we had reached the metro station. Can you imagine the thoughts that went through my head in those few minutes? Please try to, sir, because my safety depends on it.
Do you know this was not the first time that something like this had happened?
Sir, I am a woman and I have to be cautious and attentive all the time. I cannot sit in the back of a cab and relax. My eyes stay glued to google maps. I have to keep at least five people in loop about my whereabouts. Because sir I am a woman and if I am ravaged and left in a ditch to die, I would like to be found.
Mr Chief Minister, I have heard you are a favourite amongst the autowallahs, and sir, let me tell you that they are no different. Will you ask them to give me free rides too? Because I am a woman and travelling free will make me safe. Is this really what you believe?
You want to make it safe for me, sir. And you will make the buses free for me as I am a woman. But Mr Chief Minister, how will my free travel stop the accidental touches and intentional groping? You will make the Delhi metro free too, especially for me, a woman, but how do you intend to keep me safe on the streets that I take to reach the metro station?
I am a woman, sir and I have to fight a new fight every day throughout my life. So you will understand why I don’t like it when my safety is taken lightly and is reduced to a mere means of luring votes.
I am a woman, Mr Chief Minister and I have been playing this game for a long time. Free of cost travel won’t make me safe and both of us know this. It is not justified for you to hide your government’s defeat by labelling a freebie as a remedy for my safety. Please don’t tell me that my safety can be bought. Don’t tell me that feeling unsafe was my fault all along.
Please sir, don’t insult my fight and struggles in the hope of gaining some votes in the upcoming election. Don't put the burden of my safety on me. Because I am a human too, Mr Chief Minister and I am tired of bearing this responsibility that should never have been mine.
And sir, if you really wish to keep me safe, try to attack the regressive patriarchal culture which allows men to be men but wants to keep me under its thumb. It is then that I will be eternally grateful.