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Today morning, Damini, the 23 year old girl from Delhi, who was brutally gang-raped by six men in a moving bus, passed on. We pray for her to rest in peace.
Let us hope her struggles do not get wasted. Let us keep the movement going.
Since I started this journey of activism, there is one question I have met at every corner; ‘Why? Is it even a problem?’
I want to say it once more, YES. It is huge problem. Not surprisingly, most of the people who ask this question are people who have never been harassed, old gentlemen and ladies who don’t want to face reality.
There is nothing wrong with having been harassed, there lies no shame in being disturbed, the shame instead belongs to your harasser! In a survey we carried out last month, we discovered that EACH and EVERY girl who answered it had faced some form of harassment, ranging from whistling to horrifying groping. We did have some male respondents as well and guess what? About 30% of them had faced some form of teasing too! And to surprise you a little more, most boys had suffered from worse harassment than the female counterparts; a higher percentage of boys than girls in India have been flashed at, and if you don’t know what that means, it means someone randomly showing you their privates.
I will share a personal anecdote to assure the old gentlemen and ladies that boys are assaulted too. Last winter, I was sitting in a bus, with my mum a few feet away. An old man who was visibly unwell came and took up the seat next to mine, all was well till the bus actually started to move. Once the engines were turned on, the man moved his hands in all weird directions and his fingers carefully examined those parts of my bodies that I had never touched so elaborately myself. You may again question how this is possible and why I didn’t speak up. I was blanked out, I did not even have the courage of telling my mother who was a whisper away about what the man had just done. But I had had enough after a few minutes, I shoved his hand away and attracted a bit of attention from the standing travelers, and I exchanged an angry glance with the man. He was not too ashamed.
I do not know whether people who have always questioned the feminists would be comfortable in putting up with such. Would you feel nice when you are walking down a secluded road and it is a cold December night and someone shouts a rape threat at you? Is that a cheerful thought? I doubt it is. It is high time the policy makers and the civil society realized how big a problem harassment, ‘eve-teasing’ or whatever you call it, is. It is horrifying and scars people’s lives, it is just one of the many reasons that girls in rural areas drop out of schools for, it is one of the reasons that girls in India and everywhere live lives filled with fear, and it is also of the many reasons that Punjab’s female feticide rates tear the roof. I think it is time for us to make wise decisions and work for the welfare of the society as a whole.
I am a student and have had my share of nasty harassment. Recently, I was in an auto rickshaw in Pathankot. It was quite late in the night but I had to get home. I had carefully selected an auto driven by an older man to feel safe but I guess I was wrong.
The road was slightly empty and the man started to ask me bizarre questions which I am not comfortable in telling. I told him to stop the auto so I could get off and he abused me terribly. He twisted my hand and then I just ran away.
My parents were very supportive of me but I was unable to find the man again and teach him a lesson.
I request all girls to talk about whatever happens with their parents. Your safety is very important.
I am a working woman and have to move around a lot. For the past several months, the walk to home has been making me feel more insecure than I ever have. Each day I am scared about being assaulted.
There is always a particular man who is drunk and naked who sits on the way and says all sorts of terrible things to women walking by. I have tried to avoid the road as much as I can but it is not always possible. At times he even touches the women who pass by.
I have not had the courage to tell anyone about this.
One day, me and two of my other friends were walking home from school. It was on the highway that two boys on motorcycles started to follow us. We decided not to retaliate and keep moving. Ignoring them did not work and they just got more lewd and it made us very uncomfortable and insecure.
I decided to act back. I shouted at them and told them not to harass us. They laughed and thought I was joking, it was only when I hurled my slippers(‘juttiyan’) at them that they went away.
I went home and told my parents about it and not surprisingly, they blamed it all on me and my friends. It is my request to everyone reading this to not blame victims and instead pick on the culprits.
The fight against street harassment has begun! Send us your stories.
(Credits: Saniya Pole Photography )