I came across a couple of blogs today where the bloggers have described how they have been sexually harassed as a child,in workplace,in school/college/public places etc. I am not putting up the links because I am not acquainted with them yet and don’t know whether they’ll feel comfortable sharing their stories. But that won’t stop me from sharing mine.
Well,there is no particular incident that I can recall.Probably because nothing like that has ever happened to me in my childhood.No indecent touches.lewd gestures from people I know and have grown up with.I lived in an amazing neighborhood and it was like and extended family. This is a story of that one particular day when I realised that I am one vengeful woman whose temper musn’t be poked.
I was in class 9. My friend and ihad boarded the bus from near my house and were on our way to school. She had a found a seat beside a woman.And after a few minutes I found man beside a man.
Now this man was extremely fat and this gave him an incentive to try and cuddle as close to me as possible. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and once also told him to move a little to hid right to make place for me.But in vain. And then came the shocker.He started groping me.
I stood up and whacked him on the face with my umbrella!
The people turned to look at me,shocked and gasping at my unladylike behavior. My friend looked away and pretended not to know me since she hates ‘scenes’ in publuc places and being associated with them in any way. The man started sweating and woulnd’t look me in the eye. He was half-witted I tell you.He had this mad man’s eyes.He was bald and had a pudgy unpleasant face.With bald head that shone. He mumbled something incoherent while I screamed like something fashioned to scream!
I remember grabbing a fistful of his hair and trying to yank it out and stamping his feet!
No I am NOT a violent person by disposition. But once provoked I am dangerous.
The conductor came up and after listening to my side of the story(the man kep quiet) he and some other male passengers forced him out of the bus and the usual business of cuss words and public beating followed.
All the way to school I kept on wincing at how stupid was I that I sat beside him! Of course I wasn’t supposed to know all that. But I hated the fact that someone had tried to grope me.The very thought was nauseating.
The friend later asked me “Why did you do that?? It was stupid. What if the man hurts you in some way? what if he is a goon or has has own gang somewhere??”
I guess I was in this filmi-heroic state and must have replied “We’ll see…everytime he does that I’ll smack his face”
I realised later that she had a point. But my temper. It’s not a nice thing to provoke.
Some days later I had gone to an aunt’s house and was telling the story. The aunt for some reason didn’t look pleased.Later when we were alone in the room,she told me “why did you have to say all that in front of so many people? Dont you have any manners? hasn’t your mother taught you anything?”
I was surprised. It didn’t register in my mind what exactly I had done.
She went on ” don’t be so heroic and fight all the time. Learn to act like a proper girl. Nobody likes girls who shouts and fights in public. what will you do when you marry? who’ll marry you if you are like this?men want pure women…and what is this nonsense of someone touching you? how can you say such things in front of people? aren’t you ashamed of yourself?….our family has a good name.don’t try to spoilt it.”
Now I was(and still am) a bit argumentative by nature ” Why should I be ashamed? that man groped me.he ought to be punished..”
The aunt replied
“Why would a random stranger grope you? it must be you who has provoked him to do so. now listen you, you are a girl and you should be aware of this fact. You shouldn’t go about telling this nonsense bad stuffs to people.They’ll think you are bad…what is wrong with you?? hasn’t your mother taught you annything? thank god my *insert daughter’s name* is not like that!”
Class 9 was too young and naive a age to realise the implications. Now I do.Women judge other women more acerbically than men.A woman who has been groped in public is at fault.This goes to say that rapists are fallen angels and the victims should be hanged in public and fed to the maggots.
Well that explains why in olden days young widows had their hair cut off.They might attract unwanted attention from ‘poor innocent sweet-natured’ bhagwanwallas, which of course was the womne’s fault going by my aunt’s logic.
I am still like what I was so many years back. I lash out at people when they try to grope me in public.And I am not ashamed of it.
I am proud of my mother who had done exactly the same thing years back when women were always relegated to the back and married off at 15.
I request everyone to NOT keep quiet and tolerate everything like the gentle decent lady you have been brought up to be like. Don’t let people take advantage of you.If you don’t speak up today,10 years down the line you will find your daughter facing the same problems and you’ll be too lost in your own murky world of darkness and mortification to help her out. I know a woman who came from a family where women were bathed in gold jewellery and fed well but treated no better than cows in sheds(much like pigs being fed before slaughter). If she can do it, all of you can.So speak out.There’s no embarassment or shame in it.And people who think there are any,just ignore them.
p.s: This is nothing compared to the ordeals of other women but nevertheless I felt I should share it.