”I don’t like the back seat”
Men call themselves rationalists. This makes us assume that at least some men driving on Indian roads are rational. However, it turns out that our assumption is false and Indian men on roads have not yet been able to shed their caveman instincts. Indian roads are the living manifestation of the Sloka “Na Stri Swatantram Arhati” which diligently explains the incapability of a woman to be independent. From Mahabharata to Interstellar, from the colossal chariots to Lamborghini Espada, there have been innumerable civilizations but, alas, no mental evolution. In our much loved country a woman at the backseat of a car is more revered than the one guarding the steering. This makes the number of women driving on roads similar to the number of girls in IIT- sparse is the word. Those bravehearts who dare to display their skills in the testosterone filled roads, take a ride by risking their own safety. Because, Indian roads have always been dominated by men and it’s feared that it will remain their exclusive jurisdiction.
While the number of women who take onto Indian roads is abysmally low, those who play differently are appalled by the sheer insensibility of remarks thrown at them. The fear of life and dignity makes even the boldest one shiver. This can be exemplified by a personal experience. I was returning from my friend’s home at around eight-o-clock in the evening, alone. Staying in metro for a year made me accustomed to venturing out in the dark alone and no-girl-can-walk-alone-at-night attitude was obliterated from my mind. While merrily riding my pink scooter, my ear started picking on a consistent honk. Despite the plentiful space on the wide road, the person in the white Hyundai Verna was resolutely honking. My brain cells were aware of its purposeful nature, then. At the drop of a hat, I saw the car moving parallel. I looked aside and imagined myself freezing him with my icy glare, but my bubble of fantasy burst as soon as he gave me a lewd smirk and sped away. All my sanity vaporized in the cold air. I considered following him and engraving the mark of my five fingers on his despicable face but practicality struck me soon and my rational half thought the better of it.
I consider myself very fortunate that it was a very trivial incident that happened to me that day. Statistics say that there has been a rise in the number of cars registered in women’s name. The truth behind the registration papers is darker to perceive. Even if a woman is able to control the steering, she might topple over something just because a motorbike might have blocked her way. Remarks highlighting incompetency is as common as rapes in India. The wrath of male drivers is experienced by every female driver on the roads. Street harassment of women drivers has always been present but unnoticed in the crowd. Instances of gender inequality is tangible everywhere. Some are very pronounced while others are camouflaged in our everyday transactions. We fail to notice it and it infests justice as a parasite.
— About the Author: The article has been contributed by our intern, Shristi Banerjee.