Hyderabad has, in the past fifty or so years, developed into an educational haven in the South.
With premier institutions in various fields in the University of Hyderabad, the English and Foreign Languages University, BITS, TISS, and so on, students from all over the country, and even foreign countries like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and west Asian and east European countries are flocking to the city.
A relatively progressive city
As a student from Chennai who shifted to Hyderabad for her masters, I can say that one of the first things I observed was the open and non-judgemental attitude of people in the city.
Unlike in Chennai, where even sleeveless clothes drew eyeballs, girls in Hyderabad would dress however they wanted and be left in peace.
My friends and I also found the city quite safe, and would go out late at night with no untoward incidents happening to us, both alone and in groups.
We felt extremely secure in the city, and it became our safe haven and an ideal place to pursue our education.
Vet Doctor’s rape case
The recent, horrific incident where a veterinarian doctor was brutally raped and murdered on the outskirts of Hyderabad has shaken the confidence of every independent woman.
Known to be a friendly city where strangers offer help to people who are stuck or lost (similar to the case where the victim was offered help by a stranger to change her flat tyre), Hyderabad is no longer a place where we can take a stranger’s help at face value.
We are suspicious of everyone, and don’t really set much store by the services of the police and judiciary either, considering how the perpetrators are STILL not properly punished after their horrific crime.
Now, we are afraid of stepping out alone after dark, for fear that some creeps may carry out a planned assault, and feel unsafe and insecure in the city that had become our second home.
Self imposed restrictions
The immediate reaction to this is us girl students putting up barriers in order to ensure our personal safety.
In an ideal world, it is almost 2020, women would/should have basic rights like freedom to go about their work in public without fear of being dragged off, raped and killed.
However, reality is far from this- if the girl lives, she is victim shamed, and if she dies, candlelight marches are held for her, but no actual change is brought about in the laws and punishment of perpetrators.
It feels like each of us is responsible for ourselves, whether or not the judiciary is.
It is terribly sad that as emancipated, aware, and educated women, we have to impose restrictions on ourselves, give ourselves deadlines, and cover each inch of visible skin to blend in to the crowd and keep ourselves safe.
Watch my OpED video here:
This incident has marred the image of Hyderabad as a safe and progressive city that is a good option for women students. It’s only a matter of time before it turns into another Delhi- great education, but constant fear for the personal safety of women.
Image Credits: Google Images
Find the author online at: @samyukthanair_
Find the editor online at: @YaddyVirus