A Sexually Harassed Nation
After the report of the outraging New Years Eve incidents in Bangalore we have all been debating, screaming, arguing and talking a lot about sexual harassment in India. I am glad that prime time slots have been dedicated to talk about it – I hope some positive steps are taken to make our cities safer. Sexual harassment, molestation and rape should not become our ‘culture’. No individual has the right to violate another. Do not bring drinking alcohol, moral character, western clothes and other excuses to the table.
Bangalore was never a safe city – when we were in college we bore the brunt of predators. My sister and her friend would walk to college from their paying guest accommodation. One day a milk man on his cycle behind them rang the cycle bell. They turned around with the assumption that they had to give way but were flabbergasted when they saw that he was smirking with his pants unzipped and penis in his hands.
Unnerved they reached college and discussed their trauma with a couple of their classmates. They were shocked to hear that all the autos outside their campus have the drivers mastrubating as they waited for customers.
Brigade Road was always gropers paradise. We always went prepared. Walk on the left side – less people, lesser chances of getting groped.
The early 2000’s when cell phones hadn’t become ubiquitous – we went down to phone booth’s to call friends and family. On one such day, it was early evening I was returning to my accommodation with my sister from having called my parents. A residential area, the road was dimly lit. A scooter with 2 men was coming towards us from the far end of the road – nothing unusual. We were in our own worlds yakity yaking. And out of nowhere I felt extreme pain – it difficult to separate the actual physical pain from the pain deep in your soul. One of the bike riders had grabbed my breast and squeezed it. I was blank for a second too long. I screamed and screeched but the scooter slowly rode away. I was angry at my helplessness. I replayed the instance each time thinking how I could have kicked the scooter down and kicked his balls blue – but time slowly passed and I tucked my anger away with the memory in the deep recesses of my being.
Over the years traveling in many other cities in India you realise that as a woman you are never really safe. My friends in Delhi used to carry safety pins on busses. We then learnt to walk on crowded streets with our elbows jutting out so save ourselves. We duck into shops when we sense a predator, we carry dupattas, we call friends before and after we take taxi’s or autos. We need software giants to design panic buttons. It’s all a bit tiring thinking about all the precautions we take just so that we can live without being harassed.
Kind of unfair when men zip up and down where and when they want. I see a wall – I must piss on it. I see a girl – I must grab. This theatre has a comfy seat – let me mastrubate.
Writing this, I feel like I am screaming inside a sound proof room. Digital economy, growth rate of 7%, biggest military spender, largest democracy, one of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world- WHATEVER! Only one question really needs to be addressed immediately – When and how will our society evolve to me more humane and civil?