Everyday stories of sexual violation
woman was walking. Her age doesn't matter. She was walking on the road
next to her home. It was evening and she had been out for an errand. The
lane was quiet and there were not many people about. But the woman did
not feel alarmed--after all, this was 'her' neighbourhood, the place she
had lived in for nearly a decade. And besides, she was not venturing
out too far, she was going to a row of shops five to ten minute's walk
from her own home.
in the darkness, she spotted something strange at the apartment
building on the lane in front of her. This building had a little gated
shed where there was a transformer. And in front of this transformer, a
young man was standing, eyes locked on her. He was fully clothed but
with pants unzipped, hips jerking up and down. He was standing there
masturbating. His face was in shadow but there was enough light from the
nearby streetlight for the woman to see exactly what he was doing.
what did she do? Well, she had her little child with her, a child not
yet four years old then. So her first thought was, did my child see? How
dare this man do this to me, to my child? Shaking with anger, she
shouted--something unintelligible, but something conveying the boiling
rage within her. Sensing her agitation, the child became upset too,
asking, “What is it Amma, what is it? Why are you shouting?”
woman was in a dilemna--should she leave the scared child alone and run
for help? Should she drag him along and chase the man? Taking advantage
of her indecision, the man scaled the gate in front of him and started
woman was me. That child was my son. No, he didn't see what that man
did because my little boy had been happily singing songs as we walked.
He and I had been talking about cartoons, cars that talk and dogs that
bark “hello”. It had been a totally magical evening, until this
happened. What drove that man to do such a thing? I honestly don't know.
that man a pervert, a flasher, a desperate excuse of a human being.
Truth is, I am not the only one to go through such an experience. This
sexual violation (as a woman, wouldn't you feel dirtied and violated
when something like this happens?) is an everyday affair. It is part and
parcel of being female and it happens in every part of our cosmopolitan
city. No, actually, it happens everywhere. To females--young,
adolescent, working women, older women. Age doesn't matter, like I said.
Women get groped, pinched, flashed at, a man can 'accidentally' brush
against our breasts, 'accidentally' fall on us (in a crowded bus on the
subway), follow us, makes disgusting sucking noises as we pass by. And
then, there is the more straightforward 'grab-as-you-go' tactic. My
friend M had her bottom grabbed by a hoodie-wearing guy on a
two-wheeler, as she walked around Richard's Park. He literally zoomed up
to her, grabbed her and zoomed off. Yes, she could have chased him, but
she was shell shocked and all she managed was an angry, helpless shout.
Other walkers walked on, as if they didn't notice anything.
yes, this sexual violation can happen anywhere, on roads, public
transport, in offices, bus-stops, parks, at malls, movie theatres,
during long-distance journeys, daily commutes, at occasions (festivals,
weddings), where ever there are crowds, or where ever there are empty
Do we ask for it?
truly heinous, stomach-churning events and their aftermath make it to
the newspapers. But these other experiences don't get reported though
these are no less soul-crushing, spirit-destroying, self-confidence
decimating. Rather, these incidents get buried deep in our
consciousness, but leave a scar that affects us through our lives.
Because you see, as women we cannot help but wonder, did we do something
to provoke such an incident? Because if we do talk about these things,
go to report a crime, society in it's infinite wisdom asks (through the
mouth of neighbours, relatives, friends, cops who act as judge and
jury): “What were you wearing? What were doing in that place, at that
time, alone? What did you do? Were you with your boyfriend?”
As if it is somehow, our fault.
women have blogged/written about these experiences. Just as I am
sharing my own. Because reading such stories is one way of making women
everywhere realise no, it is not our fault when someone gropes us, sexually violates us. The perpetrator is the one being degraded here. Not you or me.
do these things happen? Is it because we have a sexually repressed,
frustrated male population? Is it because porn is so freely available,
is it because our movies are full of women in skimpy outfits dancing to
suggestive lyrics, pouting sexually-loaded lines, portrayed as falling
in love with heroes who stalk them, harass them? Honestly, I don't know.
incident I shared here took place a while ago. My little fellow is
older and has hopefully forgotten all about it. At that time, he did not
know what happened, but instinctively knew something 'bad' occurred to
make his Amma very, very upset. So, for some nights, just before he
slept, he would ask me: “Will the bad man come again, Amma?” And I would
tell him, “No, sweetheart, the bad man won't come back to hurt us”. And
comforted, he would sleep.
But as a woman I know, the 'bad man' will do this, again and again. And there's nothing much I can do about it.
(This is my latest post on Connected Lives: http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/blogs/connected-lives/blog_posts/did-you-get-groped-today)