Read about the Blank Noise project
and wanted to support it by putting in my two cents. I know I am late, but they say "Better Late than Never". And after all it is never too late to do something good.
What can I say about street harassment that hasn't been said by hundreds and thousands of women all over the country? We've all been victims at some point in life and we've found our own ways of dealing with it. We've been jostled, prodded, groped....anytime the perpetrator felt the need to and was reassured of his getting away with it.....in a crowd.
I can't even remember any more when it first started. Or how I learnt defensive techniques of evading these men, by squirming or moving away at the last instant, or by holding my bag behind me so that it would form a barrier between my bottom and any unwanted visitors. I never gave it back to these creatures by calling out their bluff. Because I was embarrased that this was happening to me. Because I was nervous. Because I was the kind who hates drawing attention to herself. And yes, there are women like me. And year after year, these men get away with it. And women go on being victims.
The one incident I would like to share is something that happened on the streets of Calcutta. A city that has been touted as being safe for women. I was walking down the road to the bus stop near the Tollygunje Police Station. Now how much safer can you get, right? You have the P.S. bang in front of you. And it was around 4:30, so it wasn't even dark outside. There were people out on the street, taking a stroll, chatting with each other, children playing. You get the scene. And here I was walking down, trying to make it to the bus stop. I spot a group of young men coming towards me from the other side. Now my natural instinct put me on my guard. You adapt to these instincts if you are a girl growing up in a big city. Right when these guys came across me I could hear them passing comments and smiling at me. I kept on walking trying my best not to look at anyone and pretend like I didn't see them. And then one of the guys decided to get a little bolder. He reached out, touched me and grabbed my dupatta and bag. I tried jerking his grip off and fought to break free. Now there were atleast twenty people all around us on the street. Some even stopped what they were doing and stared. And while I was crying for help and fighting off this guy, not a single person intervened or came to my help. And all the while his friends just laughed and cheered him on. When I finally freed myself and got away I remember running the rest of the way with tears streaming down my face. When I reached home I wept. For myself for not being strong enough to hold my own. For every girl who has to face this kind of harassment. For the city that prides itself on being safe. For the myth that Calcutta is a city with a heart.
Eve-teasing has become a way of life in India. We live with it and grow up with it. And I truly believe none of the guys who read my blog have ever done anything so gross. Yet, there are hundreds and thousands of men who do harass and take advantage of women on the streets. The one time I saw anyone take a stand against eve-teasing was on a crowded bus where a man was trying to shove his hard-on into my backside and this young gentleman who saw what was happening started shouting at this man and made sure that he was forced to get off the bus. I salute men who stand up for the harassment women go through everyday on the streets. And I salute the people who are taking a stand against street harassment. And if getting on my computer and posting this prevents even a single incident of eve-teasing, then I will consider this my most significant post ever.