Carol Andrade Column: An invitation to rape and no sorry

In the video, she is a perfectly ordinary-looking women, given to wearing perfectly ordinary clothes, rotund figure completely comfortable in a pin-tucked, slightly more form-fitting-than-ideal kurta, ubiquitous leggings, short coloured hair. Like millions of us, she has a disagreeable expression on her face and a heavy walk that implies that every one of her 50 (or 60) years weighs her down.

I can imagine tossing her a word in the mall, where she is incongruously clutching two round cushions, bright yellow, with smileys on them, indication that she has a family life where sunniness and laughter are accepted. I would be wrong — so, so wrong.

The woman is a deadly manifestation of everything that is wrong with our society. Its vile patriarchy, medieval mindset, false values, vicious determination to maintain the status quo. She is middle class, somewhat educated (or even a teacher, shuddersome thought!). She has access to all the comforts of life, probably has travelled abroad – and may have access to young girls and boys in her social circle. One hundred percent, to some degree, she is an influencer, because no-one could do what she reportedly did in a Delhi restaurant without have enjoyed so much authority somewhere that she felt she could get away with her behaviour. What behaviour?

Enraged at the sight of a group of young, trendily-dressed girls, she commanded one of them in a short dress to sit with her while she read her the riot act. HUGE MISTAKE! First rule — make sure the target of your lecture literally owes you his/or her life. No other obligations are even considered. She must have been told off in style.

So she made a scene in the restaurant and brought in the men seated there, asking whether such clothing would invite rape, indicating that the girls who dressed like this should be thusly treated. All hell broke loose (of course) and while the woman was not asked to leave the restaurant, the girls were invited to move to another part and enjoy their meals. Hopefully, they got it on the house.

But the real horror followed. The girls followed the woman to a mall close by and confronted her, inviting her to apologise. She refused, shrilly demanding that the police be called! Then she tried to berate the girls again but they were having none of it. Face closed completely from reality, her expression blank and malignant by urns, she then appealed to the public. Look how these girls were daring to accost her in public, she said, would no-one call the police? That line of argument failed, however, when reminded that the restaurant’s CCTV was being sought by them to establish the woman’s own culpability.

The thing is, she refused to apologise even when warned that her life would be made a living hell on social media. The girls started to sound a little hysterical. And then another woman stepped in, early middle age, wearing a black, knee-length dress with fashionable cold shoulders. And soon the battle (if it could be called one) began to resemble one of the better dinosaur movies. There was Tyrannosaurus Rex, who made a habit of lunching on Velociraptors, suddenly realising that a group of them could be intimidating. And joined and supported by Spinosaurus, it should have been a rout.

It was, except that Tyrannosaurus refused to say sorry and was left bleeding from a thousand cuts as a result. Say sorry. Aren’t you shamed? Have they asked YOU to wear a bikini? How dare you open your mouth. Zip it. Would you like your own daughters to be raped because of their clothes? These girls have an absolute right to wear what they want. Say sorry. Your living is going to be a living hell. What kind of human being ARE you?

She didn’t say she was sorry. Defiant, immobile, stubbornly mute, someone said she was a BJP aunty.  Even then, she did not change her tack. When I clicked off the video (yeah, it’s there, on YouTube and some websites), it was still going on.

The sick feeling, that we have millions like her in this country, that woman who are in the top ten percent of this country, socially, economically and education-wise, are a real thing, won’t go away. I hope she isn’t a teacher. And if she is, I hope that by now, she has been sacked and thus prevented from spreading her poisonous view of society around.

(Former journalist, now media educator, still curious about everything.)

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