Of course, I hadn’t committed any terrible offence. It was just that one of the headlights of my car was busted; visibility was
barely relatively all right. So around 11pm driving back from Act Before You Think, on a poorly lit and deserted road, I was stopped by some traffic cops.
So far I’ve been able to talk my way out of coppy situations but this time around while I was checking out how badly off my headlights were the cop strode over to his bike and wrote up a temporary-licence slip! I was with my cousin at the time and he told me that once it’s written down there’s no trying to talk your way out of it. Drat! So with my mind buzzing with how I was going to retrieve my licence, I reluctantly took the slip of paper and drove on home.
Come Monday, I woke up early and drove over to the police station at which my driving licence was being held for a ransom of Rs. 100 (with 10% tax to the post office). The line wasn’t too long and after about 15 mins of shuffling up in the queue, I handed in my temporary licence and was given a charge sheet. I then proceeded over the next queue, since the post office had a small stand just a few feet away exclusively for collection traffic violation fines. I’m not complaining of course; it sure beats another drive to the post office, paying the fine and returning to the police station to collect my licence.
Anyway, while heading over to the second queue I told off a *truck driver for trying to jump in front of me. Thrown into a tizzy, he meekly stepped aside and gave me back my spot (I’ve been feeling quite empowered what with the women’s rights project I’ve been involved in lately. Read about it here). Well, I don’t think he understood a word I said but he certainly did get the point.
Once I got my receipt I made for the 3rd floor in a hurry to be reunited with my licence. Except when I got there I found two lines, of only men (goes to show men are worse drivers), stretching across the whole room! And then something unexpected happened… the policemen around told me to head to the top of the line. I was hesitant at first but they smiled reassuringly and so I ambled directly to the desk at which a lady cop was returning all the confiscated licences. A plain clothed policeman took my receipt, located my licence, asked me to sign a register and handed me my little plastic card. No sweat.
I mumbled an uncertain ‘thank you’ and scrambled out while trying not to make eye contact with the truck driver I’d told off earlier.
The only explanation I can think of as to why they returned my licence immediately was because I was a girl. Apart from my sex, I was just like the guys in those lines- a traffic law offender and healthy enough to stand in the queue. Would this be an inequality in the system for which guys are up in arms when girls talk about equal rights? About how chivalry is reserved for women who consider themselves the weaker sex?
Then again I think men are to be blamed for creating the inequality. If they never resorted to treating women as an inferior sex then such inequalities would never have emerged. I don’t know if that mentality can be completely eradicated but as long as it exists women will require protection. Of course not all men are harasses, I just hope more men realise the nitty-gritty of the situation and stow away the ‘say bye to chivalry’ line when the subject of ♦feminism is brought up.
*Let’s assume he’s a truck driver; for easy reference.
♦I’m talking about classical feminism. Some of the more recent feminist movements have radical ideas that I certainly wouldn’t support.