'Northeast girls are warm towards people, but are taken wrongly,' says AIDWA Vice President
With hopes for better future, girls from North East India migrate to major Indian cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai in search of jobs and quality education, but in due process, daily harassment and various kinds of discrimination turn out to be a daily phenomenon. A recent survey conducted by Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia, and commissioned by National Commission for Women suggest that 60 per cent of northeast women undergo such problems everyday in the above mentioned metros.
Sudha Sundraraman, General Secretary All India
Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) said, ''There is a deep biases against people from the northeast. They are very different in their lifestyle
as well as their looks. They are warm towards people, but are taken wrongly by the conservative people.'' A number of incidents involving northeast girls have been reported in the last ten years or so.
Even when such cases involving northeast girls are brought into the picture, the police are lazy towards their line of duty. Deeki Bhutia from Sikkim, who has been staying in Kolkata
for three years now feel there is no point complaining to the police as well. She said, ''Complaining to them is worthless. They do not take any swift action, even if we register a complain.'' On this issue, Sudha feels that the registered cases needs to be taken seriously.
This brings into question the safety of northeast people in India. Deeki Bhutia does not consider herself safe in Kolkata. She said,''Girls are not safe at all. People stare at us (north east girls) like as if we are aliens. Eve-teasing is a regular activity.'' Girls on the streets are eve teased a lot – nothing new in India. It is not only limited to northeast girls alone, but also people from various other places.
But one has to agree with the fact that northeast girls with their sharp features look different from others, lets say from North and South Indian girls. Pipang, a student in Delhi from Arunachal Pradesh feels that northeast girls are not safe, especially when one is alone. She said, ''We look different. It makes us more prone and vulnerable. Moreover our lifestyle, dressing sense are also different, so there are good enough chances of it being misinterpreted.''
Echoing on the same lines, a journalist residing in Bangalore
from Assam, Jur Molaya said, '' There may be dresses, which we wear in our hometown, but the same may not be considered good in Delhi. Our culture is completely different from the rest of India. ''
In 2005, it may be for the same reason that Virender Kumar, Vice Principal of Kirori Mal College, Delhi
University said that salwar kameez should be a dress code for northeast girls, which did not go well with the northeast students. In 2012 making matters worse, Arunachal Pradesh
MP Takam Sanjay said that northeast girls should wear decent dresses. So is it the dresses, which play an important role in northeast girls being mistreated? Even North Indian girls wear shorts and skirts, but, they are safe. So, this rubbishes the idea of dresses being a main reason for sexual assaults on northeast girls.
''People from the northeast wear what they are comfortable with. It is a mistake to think that their dresses leads to sexual assault. If you look at crimes against girls in India, most of the cases, it is mostly against minor girls and children, who are sexually assaulted by their family members. So, one can see that it has got nothing to do with dress one wears,'' said Sudha Sundraraman.
But, northeast poeople also need to teach others about their culture and tradition to help themselves. Pipang said, ''Just complaining does not work. We need to address and inform the people about our culture and tradition, and educate them.''