Zip it up, guys, writes mast mast girl Raveena Tandon

Mumbai,Raveena Tandon: I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Standard 8, on a road trip with my family, from Mumbai (then Bombay) to Kanyakumari. My brother was in his first year of college and eager to reach Bengaluru (then Bangalore) and party with some of his friends who were studying there. Being the boring teenager, I was just looking forward to seeing the many historical sites and the cities and towns the beautiful South had to offer…

Raveena Tandon

Not that I had a choice. I couldn’t have partied with my brother because he did not want to chaperone his chubby little sister anywhere at all. Back then, Bangalore was the hip and happening city with hip and happening people. It had everything a young person found fascinating: pubs, restaurants, and most of all, other young people.
My first impression was that it was such a cool city to be in! The draught beer flowed, pubs rocked and the city had a fun vibe that even Mumbai didn’t offer. I’d always cherished that idea of Bengaluru in my mind, so it breaks my heart to see what is happening in that city today.

Blame the victim
The Garden City has been systematically stripped of its gardens, its lakes and now, even its vibe. A rape happens in Cubbon Park, one of the city’s top tourist attractions and Karnataka’s new Home Minister says, ‘A woman from Tumkur was near the tennis club at 9.30 pm. I am told she wanted to learn tennis at that time.’ Instead of assuring the victim of a speedy law-and-order response, he questions her culpability. Instead of admitting the city’s failure in protecting one of its daughters, he publicly wonders if she perhaps did not bring it upon herself? Shame!

A history of violence
In 2009, in Mangalore, a group of 40 Sri Ram Sene activists attacked men and women at a lounge pub called Amnesia. Because, they claimed, the women were violating traditional Indian values. The Sene’s founder, Pramod Muthalik, justified the act by saying that ‘whoever has done this has done a good job’. His logic is that girls going to pubs, is unacceptable according to our culture. But violence against women is acceptable? The Manu Smriti says: ‘’The society that provides respect and dignity to women flourishes with nobility and prosperity, and a society that does not put women on such a high pedestal has to face miseries and failure, regardless of how many noble deeds they perform otherwise’’. Most of our Indian scholars believed in gender equality. We are the land that worships goddesses.

No country for women?
Look at what’s happening in Kerala — God’s own country. A tropical paradise of waving palms and sandy beaches is on its way back to feudalism? Kerala Education Minister PK Rabb is against the practice of boys and girls sitting next to each other on the same bench. Does he also not sit next to his female colleagues in a cabinet meeting? Maybe if his idea of proximity to women is them living in a different country altogether to avoid “mischief”. This is the 21st century. We talk of women empowerment and gender equality. Women are being inducted into the armed forces in India. They walk shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts in every field.

How will we fight a war if women are seated separately?

Not to be outdone, closely afterwards, came a gem from a prominent Kerala religious scholar AP Aboobacker Musalyar. He proclaimed that women were created to give birth and rear kids and it is not possible to have gender equality, as it is anti-Islamic, anti-human and anti-intellect. Whoaaahh! Are we in India? His exact words: “Gender equality is impossible. Men hold the power to control this world. Women cannot face bigger crisis in life. Is there a single female doctor who can conduct a heart surgery? He is a man who has seen decades. Surely he lived during the times of Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto and now Sheikh Hasina… My examples can go on, but then sadly, can we let these people go on with their outrageous sermons and remarks?

Men on Mars
True we are a secular, democratic country, but should people with this mindset like the Home and Education minister, be sitting in our Parliament? Are we really progressing or are we going back into the dark ages? These are our Education and Home (State) Ministers and they should be propelling us into the future and not backward into the seventh century? I say that the next India needn’t send a “MOM Mission” to Mars, pack these guys off!

Guess, they truly believe that men are from Mars and women are from Venus…