An open letter to Salt Lake police

Kolkata police has issued an advisory to prevent molestation et al in Salt Lake, asking women to 'behave' and 'avoid' late nights. We say thank you, gentlemen, for being so concerned. To be read best with a pinch of salt at hand

pujab

Puja Bhattacharjee | September 9, 2014



Dear policeman who issued the advisory on how to be safe in Salt Lake,

I am so scared of Salt Lake that I cannot remember the last time I was there. In fact, I routinely scold a female friend of mine who frequently goes there and even has the audacity to take sharing cabs from that locality. God pray if some mishap happens, I cannot blame you for not being there. She should and must take the responsibility of her own safety! I am sure our chief minister will agree. She never moves about without the presence of her bodyguards. Those of us who can hire our own bodyguards can still breathe a sigh of relief. But for the rest of us, we have to rush home as soon as it is dark. Forget job or social life. We are women and we should never forget that. Our safety is our responsibility.

Once my aunt was returning from an acquaintance’s home in Salt Lake and she was approached by three young men who pointed a gun at her and demanded that she hand over her gold jewellery. She did as told. What other option did she have? She asked for it the moment she slipped on that gold ring and wore those gold earrings. I am sure you are glad that she was just robbed and not sexually assaulted. I suggest that you shut down all jewellery shops in the area. That will nip the problem in the bud.

I would also like to draw your attention to other such areas which are becoming a pain for us. For example, Gariahat. It is so crowded yet the hawkers manage to pass a few lewd comments, some whistle and others catcall while we walk. At other times, a lithe cunning hand manages to brush past the private parts of our bodies while we navigate through the crowd. Can you please help the local police issue an advisory on how to tackle this menace? A few helpful suggestions- should we stop walking on the pavements and start flying instead? Should we put on the invisibility cloak to avoid harassment or should we just do away with our ears? And perhaps also our eyes because random cars stop in front of us and strange men signal us to get in. If we do not see them, they will not trouble us, right?

The same goes for the metro. My cousin who was waiting on the platform decided to miss three trains because of the rush hour. She was told by the cops present that either she has to get on the next train or leave the platform. When she told them that she will get molested if she boards a crowded train, a cop smirked and said that nobody does that on purpose. That silly girl fought with him instead of listening to him. Of course women don’t get molested on crowded trains! In a crowded place, the hands of some men develop a brain of their own and decide to go on an explorative journey. Just like their tongues go astray and say things which the poor man does not agree with.

Sometimes the lips of Kolkata men decide to become very loving and generous and starts giving out free kisses to every woman they see. A woman should recognise the goodness of his heart (read lips) and just move on.

I am thinking of inviting a few Taliban brothers to come and conduct a workshop on how to keep women safe. Can you please let me know about a time and date of your convenience?

Thanking you,
Puja Bhattacharjee

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