Being a woman is not easy. As each of us sets out of the confines of our abodes, we have a different set of anxieties to cope up with. The common challenge we all are fraught with is to protect our chastity from the ‘humanized beasts’ around us. The incidents of harassment in public spaces are a part and parcel of a woman’s life. They can happen anywhere and everywhere. One can never tell what form does ‘Satan’ assume and where does it approach one.
As for me, I have to grapple with such incidents mostly while using public transport. Travelling through public transport is a commuter’s nightmare, especially if she is a woman. Many-a-times, the male passengers attempt to arch out their elbows and hit them against the bodies of the female co-passengers. Overcrowded buses and matadors are a haven for these evil-minded men, who resort to their activities without fear. Sometimes, they try to move their hands over our bodies and at other times, they’ll find ways to lean over us. On many occasions, the bus conductors can be seen molesting women and young girls. Such degrading acts of moral turpitude in public transport have become the west and style of the day.
Though I consider myself heck of a feminist, yet I’ve never been vocal against any such incident I was confronted with, until one, which made me gather my strength and speak up against it. While I was travelling in a crowded bus waiting for my stop, a young man standing behind me made several attempts to inappropriately touch me all over the back. I ignored it for once, but he did not stop at this. I looked back and passed him a rough look, but he continued with his act shamelessly, until my tolerance reached a point of saturation and I gave him a tight slap on his face. Embarrassment assailed him; he was punished for his actions in front of forty people or so. Though I felt satisfied at having avenged my insult from that filthy creature, yet something that greatly perturbed me was the thought that while I struggled to guard my vanity, no one dared to speak a word against the actions of the lunatic, forget coming to my rescue. Except for a lady, who later asked a man to exchange his place with me. Weren’t these people equally responsible for that ‘scumbag’ daring me to molest me in front of them? Their silence had strengthened his determination.
“You can’t insult every person who tries to molest you, because these incidents happen so very often. You act against them at times and at other times, you remain passive, thinking it’s wise to let go”, says Radhika (name changed), who travels by local bus daily to and from her college. Often we don’t make a big deal out of such issues and write off the problem as a “trivial” one. These seemingly “harmless” incidents are the ones which feed the rotten mindsets of these pests and makes them more determined to repeat such incidents in future.
Hence, ladies, it becomes essential for us to raise our voice against the smallest of the small incident of harassment. If not any man, but at least a woman who would have suffered the same ordeal at some point in her life, would rise in your support. And to the men, I’d say that the next time you see a woman or a girl being molested in front of your eyes in a bus or a matador, don’t choose to remain mute spectators or turn a blind eye to it, because the next in turn might be your own daughter, sister or friend.