Slow afternoons at work always result in me making a hot chocolate and having a nose around Twitter to scope out the trending hashtags of the moment. So I was doing just that a little while ago when I stumbled upon #AintNoCinderella.
It appeared as though some kind of feminist movement was brewing on social media, so I Googled the hashtag in an attempt to get up to speed.
Lo and behold, yet another story on the dangers of being a female in India. I let out a sigh, sunk in my chair and continued to read. The same few words were cropping up time and time again: “Chandigarh”, “victim”, “stalking”, “goons”.
It turns out that a few days ago, 29 year old Varnika Kundu was the unwilling subject of a late night car chase through the streets of Chandigarh, resulting in her almost being kidnapped by two men, one of whom turned out to be the son of a senior BJP politician (the ruling party in India right now).
Luckily police turned up just in time as the allegedly intoxicated perpetrators blocked Varnika’s vehicle and attempted to force open her car door.
But here’s the twist in the story. Varnika doesn’t belong to some nomad, poor family like you may have assumed, she’s actually the daughter of a Senior Indian Administrative Service Officer in Haryana — hence why this whole palaver has received so much media attention. As a result, both the victim and the perpetrator could be categorised as hailing from ‘influential’ families, so arguably they’re on a level societal playing field of sorts.
One would therefore assume that a fair punishment would be dished out, but no, don’t be silly. The sexist ideologies of the world’s largest democracy always have and always will take precedence.
And so as expected, the male perpetrators were arrested and then shortly afterwards granted bail and sent home. Chandigarh police are also claiming that CCTV cameras along the road where the incident took place were non-functional at the time. #Convenient. Essentially they’ve been let off the hook with a “boys will be boys” slap on the wrist.
On the other hand, the female is being victim blamed and forced to defend her character following Haryana BJP Vice President Ramveer Bhatti’s ridiculous comments. He questioned: “Why was she allowed to roam around at night? Parents should not allow their children to stay out late…what is the point of roaming around at night?”
To which Varnika quite rightly responded: “It is none of his business, it is my business and my family’s what I do and where…If it wasn’t for men like these, I wouldn’t be unsafe going out… whether it was 12am or 2am or 4am.
“If it happens at night it’s my fault? Can the men not control their urges at night?”
Shortly afterwards, the #AintNoCinderella was born, with swarms of angered young Indian women taking to social media to defy chauvinists like Ramveer Bhatti by sharing photos of themselves having fun out and about at night, refusing to be bound by curfews.
Like I’ve said in a previous post about India’s rape culture, the Indian mentality isn’t one that will suddenly modernise and change overnight, especially not when it comes to the older generations. But thankfully, India is also the country with the fastest growing youth population in the world, so I say, keep hashtagging ladies, we’ll get there one day!