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Singled Out


Living in a patriarchal society means we are placed in a power structure where people occupy different positions based on their gender, social status and economic status, place of origin, religion, caste and race. My story, which I am going to narrate is about my experience as a woman living in Delhi belonging to a racial minority group who hail from the North-Eastern region of India. By narrating this story, I am not categorizing men from different groups as good or bad, but rather, I am stating how the social and economic status of a woman shaped the treatment they received from other groups who considered themselves to be in a higher and better position.

I lived temporarily along with my sister and a cousin sister in a rented flat in south Delhi. Their flat was on the third floor, and it had two rooms and a hall. On the right side of their house there was an open terrace which was used by some local kids and youngsters to hang out. In the mid-summer of 2018, one evening, my sister woke up to a baseball-sized hole on the right wall of her house from where she can see the open terrace. Immediately, she complained to her landlord and he told her to be careful and that they will fix it as soon as they can.

The following month, another hole appeared on their kitchen wall, and they complained to their landlord again to which he replied by saying, ‘Why don’t you go and complain to the police?’ and took no further action. One morning, while we were all sleeping there was a banging sound coming from the wall. My cousin sister went and checked and there was a bunch of kids hitting the wall, trying to make another hole. She shouted at them and they left.

The other day, I was sitting in the other room and some kids were poking at the prick that covered the hole and it fell on the floor. I went and checked and saw them peeping through the hole. I asked them what were they doing and they ran away.

There can be multiple reasons as to why we are treated in such a way.

One reason can be our race which presented us as three helpless women belonging to a racial minority group whose women are considered to be sexually available, therefore, the hole in their wall through which they can get a glimpse of their private space.

Second, one of them working in a night shift in a call-center must have projected them as someone who doesn’t confer to their so-called conventional life. Third, having male visitors including their boyfriend must have created another image for them as loose women who don’t deserve to be treated respectfully.

This incident happened to my sisters and me, but in reality, women from North-East India have been facing similar incidents over a decade. Our everyday existence is about facing discrimination of all forms.

We are called names, poked and pinched in the butt and chest in crowded places and mistreated by neighbors and employers. All these happened because the existing patriarchal society allows it.
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