'It scares me that my daughter walks tall and straight, her head held high...'

Rape

Sudha Menon on the insecurity every mother of a girl is experiencing today

Stomach in, chest out, walk with your head held high. In her growing up years, my daughter was used to my constant reminders that a great posture was very important and so was the confidence that comes from walking tall with her head held high. For me, as it is for my sisters, it is second nature because that is what our father taught us to do, back in the early seventies, when we were growing up in a suburban Mumbai town.

Suddenly, it scares me that my daughter walks like us, tall and straight and her head held high. At 21, she is the picture of self-assurance with her faith that the world is a great place to be in. But me? Not any more! Something happened in this country a fortnight ago that makes me want to pull her close to me and keep her in the secure protection of my hug and our home.

Don't walk so tall, child, don't be so proud and confident. Don't let your hair blow so gloriously in the air that everyone in your path stops to admire the bounce in your step and the smile on your face.

Don't step out of the house after dark child, for you know not what danger lurks around the corner, what monster there is waiting to pounce on your innocence. Say no, when your childhood friends come calling, tempting you to go hang out with them in a restaurant, café or a mall. Not after dark, child, come home when it is light and you can still walk home if need be and not be tempted to step into an auto or worse still, a bus, for you know not what beasts lay in wait there, to violate their own sisters. They forget, those men, that their sisters and mothers were born on this earth to be just as free as they are.

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