Women have been facing discrimination and injustice since long back and here, the irony is that despite discussions and deliberations through the decades the condition has not yet improved. In an era where we should be progressing towards the rights of the LGBTQI+ community unfortunately we are yet not able to grant women the freedom, liberty, security and the comfort they deserve. The issue is not the lack of funds or education; rather the problem lies in the mindset of the poor dogmatic and opinionated people in our society. This research paper aims to channelize that women have a right to wear what they wish to wear, be it a skirt, a burkha or nothing. She shouldn’t be scapegoated for the crime against her. The real culprits should be blamed and punished rather than wasting time on commenting on women and her clothes and ultimately blaming her. It has been observed that not only the people in poor or developing countries have these mean ideologies in fact people also think the same way in developed nations. This is really against humanity and ones liberty. This has to change if we want a progressive and a secured world. In a nutshell, the main objective of this paper is to make people realize and aware that it’s not her clothes but your mentality that is small and has to be changed.
The worst of all is when a fellow woman comments and disparages a female for wearing certain kind of clothes and getting assaulted! To clear all the misconceptions and myths this research paper is based on a poem namely “Hey Woman” written by Trisha Bhattacharya.
Women education, female infanticide, female feoticide, and reservations for women, all these kind of issues had been addressed, discussed, and worked upon compared to the issue of victimizing women for all the crimes against them like rape, violence, assault, harassment, etc. in the past. Unfortunately, the molesters are not punished severally and at the end it’s the woman who is blamed for the type of clothes she wore to the place. These are not mere assumptions rather; these are derived from concrete facts like the famous New Year’s Eve molestation case in Bangalore that took place in 2017. Although, the culprits were arrested however, the proportion of blame was inclined more towards the women. Why does this happen? Why are women blamed? Do we comment on the clothes men wear? Does the type of clothes really provoke men to commit the crime? When will women be able to roam securely and carelessly on the streets in their favorite attire without being stared at and judged? I have a lot of unanswered questions and I’m sure everybody has these questions and perhaps even more. Likewise, there have been nasty comments made by politicians and famous personalities that make us feel even more insecure. Some of the comments are as follows:-
A judge in 2006: "They made their intentions publicly known that they wanted to party."
A police officer in 2011: "Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
The governor of Jakarta in 2011: "Imagine if someone sits on board a [minivan] wearing a miniskirt; you would get a bit turned on."
A priest in 2012: "How often do we see girls and mature women going around scantily dressed and in provocative clothes?"
These comments are not confined to a particular country or a continent rather; these are from different parts of the world. After looking at people’s regressive mindset it is clear that no country is developed in its true sense.
Statements like "She was asking for it" in relation to someone's clothing and their rape have been swirling around for years, along with rape survivors being asked things like "Well, what were you wearing?" The above statements make it very clear that the world does victim blaming because they consider the women and clothing as the sole reason for the crime.
In order to stop what is happening, UN Women (UNW) has taken up an initiative where it had organized an exhibition in 2018 in Bangkok, titled Social Power Exhibition against Sexual Assault, which was a part of the campaign #DontTellMeHowToDress, organized by the campaign founder Cindy Sirinya Bishop. Thailand’s answer to the #MeToo movement, the #DontTellMeHowToDress campaign, is an initiative led by local celebrities and activists to challenge social attitudes around sexual violence and the treatment of victims. To challenge misconceptions around sexual assault, the #DontTellMeHowToDress campaign aims to debunk the myth that women should avoid dressing provocatively or exposing themselves to the risk of assault. It aims to bring sexual harassment and assault into a public discussion.
Moreover, when in 2012, a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern was brutally gang raped and tortured on a private bus in Delhi; the spine-chilling incident shocked the country and the world. Subsequently, public protests against the state and central governments for failing to provide adequate security for women took place in Delhi and other parts of India, demand stringent punishment of sexual assault against women. Despite all uproar and outcry, very little has changed since then in reality. Also, when concerns about women’s safety and questions about the mentality of the molesters were raised, many put the onus on the victim and not the assaulter. The blame was put on Western influences invading Indian traditions and, of course, the dresses women wear.
Recently, reacting to the Bengaluru New Year’s eve incident, G Parameshwara, Karnataka’s home minister came out and blamed the victims for dressing in Western clothing. “They try to copy westerners not only in mindset but even the dressing … some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen.” Well, certainly he was not the first one to say or think so. Even Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi drew huge flak for his infamous remark on women’s dressing style. . Our representatives are the people whom we can rely on however; the above statement shows that women can’t expect any change or a law from the politicians and the system because they themselves condemn and disparage women clothing.
It has been explicitly observed that if a girl gets out of her house wearing clothes in which she is comfortable however, others are not then she becomes victim of sexist and mean comments by males and even some females. Even her clothes are being referred to as “controversial”. She is deliberately made to feel embarrassed. Having the audacity to wear different clothes is not every one’s cup of tea. It’s her body and surely her choice. The world has no authority to tell her what ideal attire is. People then blame her saying that her boldness has caused this misery. People of the world have to understand that it’s not the clothes but your mindset. In a research it was shown that approximately 54% of males in UK believe that women become victims because of their clothes. To these people I have a very simple question that why was a 2 year old girl raped in Australia? Her clothes were not “controversial”. The only solution to the problem is punishing the culprits and giving justice to the victims by not questioning them irrelevantly.
My body, My choice. This slogan should be fed in the minds of all the people of the world. A woman should not be treated as a property and her clothes should not be mistaken as her consent. It is because all of us have a right to liberty where we are free to speak, write and wear anything. Then why do women become victims? This will stop only when we look at them as an integral part of our society. However, things won’t change in a fortnight it will require time and support from the government where it removes the scrap from its mind and truly works for women empowerment and their justice because this is the need of the hour and it’s already high time.
Pooja Sevaramani is a first year law student from Bhopal, India.
Trisha Bhattacharya “Hey Woman” (2017).
< https://www.thebetterindia.com/81370/use-poetry-comment-bangalore-new-year-eve-attacks/> (last visited May 11, 2022).
 Mic” Here Are 9 Times Clothing Was Blamed for Sexual Assault — Rather Than the Obvious “2016).
<https://www.mic.com/articles/141781/here-are-9-times-clothing-was-blamed-for-sexual-assault-rather-than-the-obvious>(last visited May 11, 2022).
 Mic” Here Are 9 Times Clothing Was Blamed for Sexual Assault — Rather Than the Obvious “(2016).
<https://www.mic.com/articles/141781/here-are-9-times-clothing-was-blamed-for-sexual-assault-rather-than-the-obvious> (last visited May 11, 2022).
 UN Women “Don’t Blame the clothes” (2018).
<https://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2018/06/dont-blame-the-clothes> (last visited May 11, 2022).
Trends Desk “It’s not the clothes, it’s the mind set: These hard-hitting illustrations fight the greatest myth around rape” (2017).
< https://indianexpress.com/article/trending/voice/powerful-photo-illustrations-fight-myth-victims-dress-is-not-responsible-for-rape-or-molestation-4486928/>(last visited May 11, 2022).