The Noida gang rape case has brought the rural-urban divide in the National Capital Region to the forefront. Even as villagers in the area blamed city girls for leading local boys astray, residents in urban areas said the village people were steeped in generations-old biases against women.
With malls and university campuses crawling closer to villages at a steady pace, sometimes even entering them, boundary walls can no longer prevent some common spaces where the villagers and city residents meet. D.K. Garg is the chairman of Ishan Institute of Management in Greater Noida and is often called to tackle fights between students and villagers.
“Just across the knowledge parks in Greater Noida, there are rural areas. Students have to go to markets in the villages for buying provisions. Clashes between local youth and college students have become regular,” said Garg. Incidents of eve-teasing are all too common.
“We have studied in co-ed institutions from the beginning and being friends with a girl is not uncommon. But it is an issue in these villages. If I go out with a girl, local boys make it a point to harass us,” said Ropendra Singh Sengar, a student.
Women from the village blame it on the city girls. “In our village, the women cover themselves up. Our girls do not make boy friends. City girls come to lonely stretches around the villages and indulge in obscene acts. Late night culture of the city has spoiled the girls,” said Asarfi Devi, an octogenarian from the village.
Bharat Yadav, former pradhan of Garhi Chowkhandi village, said: “Indulging in obscene activity is not western culture. If one wants to have sex, why not go to a safe place, rather than doing it in public. Girls from the city, simply misuse their freedom,” said Yadav.
He said part of the reason was also the effort to keep villagers out. “Residents want boundary walls to keep out villagers. Are villagers untouchables? If you respect the villagers, they will respect you,” he said.