I was walking down the main road in a tier 3 city along with my friend when two men on a bike rushed against us, turned again and almost pulled my friend’s dupatta — though we managed to save her, we couldn’t get a hold of those men. We froze for almost a minute before grasping everything that happened with us.
It’s been a decade since that incident, and I still look out for bikes and stay aware while walking such roads.
My cousin had to board an overcrowded bus once only to face off a stinking drunk man who was ‘just’ trying to tell her how beautiful she was. Apparently, she almost stopped using public buses.
My colleague always books two adjacent seats in shared autos because she has met a lot of men who, unfortunately, have not been taught how to adjust in their own seat and not to ‘almost’ fall on other women’s lap.
That was neither the first time nor the last time when such an incident happened with my friend, cousin or colleague.
I was in standard seven, eight or nine — I do not remember exactly — a middle-aged man groped me while I was walking to my school. And before I could react, shout and or even notice his face again, he was already out of my sight. That was one of the longest ten minutes walks I’ve ever had.
From blank calls to abusive calls, creepy stares, random terrible gropings, unwanted chases, etc.; the list is long and haunting.
And, it’s not only me who has experienced it. There is a minimum of hundreds of such incidents happening every day — while you may generalise the level of insolence, one can never justify the trauma it brings!
The sad part is that almost 99% of cases of sexual assaults go unreported — sad and dark, isn’t it?
And when I say sexual abuse, it is not limited to what you are trying to shred off. Physical abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, digital abuse, etc. are just the various forms of the torments that it brings.
Where and what is the problem they ask. Is it the mentality or rage or a compulsive mechanism to overpower another’s will or just an amusement? The reason is never annotated, never justified.
The only justification I’ve ever got is the over-liberation of femininity in the name of equality!!
Of course, they sound accurate. How can we compete against the species who have the god-given power to make us pregnant and ensure that the kids turn out to be straight! How can we have the audacity to walk in that sacred place where they go every day to earn the currency and be better than them!
Isn’t that too hard and cruel, I ask ladies! Every deed of theirs is a reminder to us — that we must not use our basic rights and sit back under the boundaries that they call house.
Sometimes, I feel that I, or maybe a lot of women, like me have passed that very stage of toleration, have crossed their threshold and have fought enough to question the people and society they belong to — maybe, we now know, or rather, have accepted that ‘this’ is not going to change — no matter how hard we fight or raise our voice.
This whole ‘do not question my patriarchal rights or else I’d harm your self-esteem and dignity’ have reached a new level — a level of fake male ego, the art of hiding inability under the trousers and the unstoppable show-off of muscles.
So yes, while I hold placards and roam around the city, a part of me knows that it’s not possible to change 1.38 billion minds against the same perception — it’s not possible to convince them that we live in a metropolitan era which does not distinguish between gender, caste, creed and sexuality.