Of women’s safety

The 4th of March is national safety day in India, and my concerned Indian employer emailed all employees about being safe in the workplace and society in general. It’s a tradition. Every day for an entire week, we get an email discussing a specific theme.

To commemorate International women’s day a couple of days ago, the email that day spoke about women’s safety and best practices.

Of the many bullet points, one stuck out weird, like a sore thumb, reminding me of the sore safety situation that’s an issue across the world, and specifically rampant in certain places like India.

“Don’t get into a vehicle that has more than one man seated in it.”

Not obeying that piece of advice is a recipe for disaster. Or so people think. Hence the warning. 

However, heeding that warning is an even even bigger problem.

Telling a woman to stay away from an enclosed space that has two or more men is stupid. The world is half men. At any given time and place, there’re more than a handful of men in a gathering. If women avoid being in the vicinity of men just because they’re men, that only shows how poorly we think of our men.

And when we think poorly of men, we, in turn, think poorly of the women who raised and influenced those men.

In a convoluted, indirect way, telling a woman to stay away from menfolk’s presence is like asking a woman to lock herself in her room. That’s limiting a woman’s ability to be herself, to be an active participant in society’s everyday activities.

Coming from an Indian background, I’ve seen and, more often, heard about women bartered off in the name of marriage. As if they’re incapable of thinking and speaking for themselves. When fathers and husbands, concerned about the safety of “their” women, tell—or even subject—them to stay at home thinking that it’s best for them, those men miss the whole point about equality and freedom for all. Sure, they’re worried about safety in the streets after hours. They’re terrified of what’ll happen if their daughter’s the only passenger on a bus at 11 pm. They’re so focussed on preventing bad things from happening that they often overlook the cause of that in the first place. 

You see, we always insist on avoiding trouble, but in the process, we avoid identifying the real trouble.

A woman sharing a cab with three other male colleagues isn’t a problem. The problem is our mindset that men are so low that they only need a small chance to become violent towards women. In a way, we’ve created a culture that treats men not as fully-functioning, even wise, humans, but as mindless animals that’ll attack the moment their prey slacks. 

The saddest part? Most people don’t look twice at these warnings. Or even spend a minute to wonder how it impacts the minds of our future generations. Tell a young mother she should avoid densely populated male areas, and she’ll automatically transfer that fear onto her daughter. As for her son? He’ll grow up forever terrified of the women who treat men as aliens.

It’s such a vicious cycle.

A milestone

When I was about 13, I decided I wanted to write—to be a published novelist.

Then life happened. Luckily, however, I still wanted to write. That’s how this blog came about, and ever since I’ve been writing plenty of self-declared short stories, opinions, random musings, and travel thoughts.

Moving to Canberra took my writing to a whole new level. I joined a writers group, and thanks to being exposed to incredible poetic talent, the embers of my poetry began to flare up. As a result, I’ve been writing and experimenting a lot with free verse poetic forms.

Now I’m super thrilled and proud to say that with the help of my incredible writers group, I’ve managed to get in on an anthology of womxn’s poetry from all over the world.

Published by Animal Heart Press, the book is called From The Ashes. It’s co-edited by Amanda McLeod and Mela Blust.

Preorder the book here

What’s the point of seasonal campaigns?

It’s rather an important day in the world of marketing. Major brands across the world convene months of planning and hard work while smaller brands collate rushed last-minute efforts to make a splash. The reason? Today is International Women’s Day.

Although most of the world is unaware of the importance of this specific day, India—where I live—is outspoken and even unashamed in promoting it. Of course, it’s convenient that it falls right within the much bigger topic of trend: Women’s History Month.

Workplaces, media outlets, social media channels are all sharing the spirit of encouraging and empowering women. And because most brands that do so, do so only to news jack and ride the trending wave, the hoopla often seems fake to me. As a result, those who’re sincere get bogged down by bright and flashy banners on social media that slap a woman’s face on it to gain viral status. As someone working in online marketing myself, I see a company’s desire for branding attention. As a passive internet observer, however, I find it annoying and futile to spend so much time and energy into one day.

No point of doing it just for the sake of doing it.

Regardless of my personal beliefs, though, brands will advocate women. Not that it’s wrong, but it feels so wrong to do it just for today rather than any other day.

It’s like the Me Too movement. Every waking day was painful as I saw revelations from so many folk I’d appreciated in the past. People for whom I wasted my time in theatres or on movie marathons were all abusers.

That’s when I realised how petty and insignificant those movies are. But that was all. About five months down the road now, not many care as much as they did then. They’ve moved on. Nothing about the Me Too movement or the cases against the celebrities came up in the Oscars. Everyone spoke to each other and of each other with fondness and compassion—where’s the fierce determination that had broken the internet a few months ago?


Every trend has its end. Women’s issues, empowerment, girls’ education are all great topics to pursue. If only we pursue them instead of just perusing them.


“As quoted above, the directors of the board, in a unanimous decision, have agreed to terminate the alleged accusations placed on it by the self-proclaimed advocates of rights. It is hereby declared that any individual or group, with our without legal advice, can no longer seek or demand the permission of the board or any other decision-level authority for additional time off of premises for purposes including, by not limited to, spring breaks or bearing offsprings.”


“Sorry miss,” Julia’s supervisor sighed before raising his voice over the din of machines and hum of laboured men, “No maternity leave here.”

The determinant

“You’ve been up all night?” Asked Andrew. “You don’t have to work so hard, you know.” Esther’s colleague had popped into her workspace with his chai latte. She didn’t reply right away. She was focussed on the micro organisms, and trying to discern a behavioural pattern.

“Well, it’s my job, Andrew.” She replied tearing her tired eyes from the microscope and rubbing them with her fingers. “But you’re right, I should get home. See what the kids are up to.”

“Damn straight I’m right.” Andrew bobbed his head raising his latte as a gesture to her.

“You’re a single mom, you don’t have to hustle so much. Why don’t you get your ex-husband to split finances with you? You’re raising the kids, and it’s only fair that he does his duty as father and man.”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” Esther raised her eyebrows at Andrew. She was tired, but not unstable. She knew what he hinted at.

“Well, it’s the man’s duty to bring home the money. You don’t have to.” He shrugged. Esther’s expression hardened. Andrew didn’t realise what he was saying.

“I’m a scientist, Andrew. I won’t compromise my duty just because I’m a woman.”