(Travelling tomorrow)



"Lolita" and a snigger as the men nodded to each other.


Lolita. A little girl in a Weekender tee shirt with a sunflower emblazoned on it, her favourite. A little girl with big glasses hurrying to Math tuition.


It stung.


"Who is a Lolita," she asked at home later that evening.


"Lolita," they told her. "Sort of like a sex object."




It was a black blur in the distance then it got louder as the bike came closer. She was humming on her way to Hindi tuition (yes, she had many tuitions, she needed them), swinging her books by her side.


He slowed down, swerved toward her and then hit out at her chest (she was fourteen).


It hurt. Her world blurred over with startled tears. From then she began defiantly carrying her books across her chest. Her walk became hurried and purposeful.


(Her red sleeveless top is part of the Blank Noise Discard Your Clothes Campaign.)





Breach Candy.


Down the road from Hostel.


Rushing after buying Maggi, trying to make the curfew. Two policemen step in her way. One of them winks. A policeman. His face is etched in memory for years later.





A crowded bus, we are trying to get off it at Churchgate. A man is pressing against us. We can feel something... strange, so hard that it hurts us.


It must be the force of the crowds, we think.

It must be the rush hour desperation of people to get off, we think.

It must be someone's umbrella handle...?

Bag contents?

Um, someone's clenched up fist....?





People ask what's wrong with Chennai. My answer is one word: 5C


My bus every morning from Kotturpuram to Mount Road. A throbbing mass of people and you would be jostled, pinched, scraped, breathed upon. Once is tolerable, twice is bearable, third is manageable, but the entire 40 minute or so bus journey, first thing every morning is enough to wear you out.





My car is navigating the line of traffic unwinding on Bangalore's Residency Road. A Maruti Van with two jeering men comes up by me, scrapes the side of my car, nudging me off my lane. A month ago two girls were killed in this same way... "eve teasing".


Rage. Belligerence. Screaming.


They laugh me off. Tell me my car is intact, before zooming off.


I head to the nearest police station. It's full of male cops.


"Sit down, Madam," they tell me, calmly. The SI is watching a rivetting soap indoors. He will not attend to me till it's done.


"Have some tea, Madam," they cajole. "No? That's how you keep your figure so thin, Madam".





The compartment heaves deep, satisfied breaths of sleep in the heaviness of the early morning. I am wide awake. Something's up with the man next to me. Every unnatural touch I explain away, till finally he reaches out with what cannot possibly be explained away, a direct assault on my body, daringly from across the aisle in the darkness of the night.


"Don't ruin his life, Madam," the bystander pleads to me.


Such a young boy, about to set out on life, here to take the Railways Entrance exam. (And touch some breasts)





How do you walk in a subway in the late evening? Have you watched yourself? Head bent, gait hurried, purposeful, scurrying... not too fast because people will reach out and touch you, not too slow because they will walk abreast, breathe into your ear... just the right speed, skipping almost: right-left, left-right, right-left... a self taught dance to avoid eyes, hands, fists, erect organs, deep breaths.


One day I would like to take in the store signs, pause for a long while on a pavement, walk slowly in a subway, perhaps humming a tune, ride hands by my side on a bus. Sleep on a train. Wear clothes that don't bring back stinging memories.


- Action Hero Hemangini

mother, daughter, sister, wife, mother...


Blog-a-thon 2006

mother, daughter, sister, wife, mother...

she is the womb which brings forth life. she is the godess who is ready to give all for her kids.

she is the woman!

a caption for a beauty peagent? no...these are the thougts which come to my mind, when i think of a women...

the fair sex? an object of sex? and of harrasment? yes, that is what she has become. a commoditiy to be sold in the marriage market, and at the brothels...the effect of globalisation? i wonder!

but i do not want to divert from the cause... To recognize Women's Day, a blogathon is being organized for Tuesday, the 7th of March 2006. Blank Noise is asking other bloggers to post about their experiences of sexual harassment - as a victim, perpetrator or bystander - at work, at home or in the public sphere. i got it from Sapphire's blog...and here, i take it up...and pls do check Jitu's blog... and strangely, it happens...

lost innocence?

she was six. innocent and naughty. the occassion, her cousins wedding. crowded house. she was tired before her parents could come to the rooms, she sleeps with her friends, along comes that friends dad, touching her at the wrong places...she is scared.sleep forgotten she walks out, dazed, finds her father and cries to sleep...the day of the wedding the child runs a high temparature, and fusses by wanting to be with her dad...all day thru..

she is 12. a brat to the core, but loveable. mingles freely with boys and girls. a cousin shows more interest, she feels a bit cold when she talks to him, she is learing to ride a scootter, he touches her on the "wrong" places. she freezes momentarily... and ends by falling off the scootter...she is a child no more. she feels herself unworthy...moves into a shell, withdrawn...

at 14. she has her first crush. she doesnt know how to tell it... but when he says it she accepts it...the first kiss, leaves her cold.. dead of feelings...

at 16...she keeps a safety pin ready to poke the mysterious grooping hand...she still had it when she started travelling by the buses in dubai. (the busses in dubai are comparitively safe in dubai folks)

summin it up: would like to qoute a male friend. "u know wat baby? the problem is some women like the snaking the male mind is programmed to try it given a chance."

It is for a women to tell that mysterious hand that it is unwanted. and i have done it.

Am glad more people are speaking up..Spark, NG, Sur,Savy ...and many more am sure will come up with their experiances....and to all   of u out there....

Thanks nsya, for sharing the thought!

i will be happy if at least one person, in some part of the world, decides to control his/her  urges after reading these post...

- Action Hero Maya


Filth, nymphomaniacs, and the woman's body

I am writing this as a testimonial to Blank Noise.


Here are three sections from the Indian penal code:

Section 209

Whoever to the annoyance of others, does any obscene act in any public place or sings, recites or utters any obscene song or ballad or words in or near any public place shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months or with fine or both. (Cognizable, bailable and triable offense).


Section 509

Whoever intending to insult the modesty of any woman utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any objects, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or both(Cognizable and bailable offence).


Section 354

Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman intending to outrage, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or fine or both.

Ironic isnt it?


Isn't it sad that these lofty and utopian ideals exist in the Indian penal code, sections which people didnt even know existed, clearly stating that it is a criminal offense to heckle, tease, or abuse a woman sexually or otherwise? Isn't it depressing that our judicial system and the police force are oftentimes the ones who break the code themselves?
What can you do with rules, edicts and codes when our society has become "conditioned" to abuse and molestation, inflicted on the woman?


Women, as my grandmother once said should "take precautions". These included the following so-called unconscious rules every girl should inflict upon herself, to follow:


1. Dress appropritately; only salwars or saris, with the duppatta of the salwar covering the bosom completely.


2. Never travel alone after 6 pm. Ever.


3. Meekly accept that molestation and groping in public places, is a fact of life we have to live with, and go about our business.


As much as I love my grandmother, none of her points are feasible, or humanly possible without feeling like a caged animal.


This harassment happens in all Indian cities, with the metropolitan citites being the worst.


I see this pattern again and again, it is the women who are blamed repeatedly, it is the women who are subjected to layer upon layer of clothes, to cover her arms, legs, body, to "prevent" street sexual harassment or "eve-teasing".


We are constantly told to wear shapeless clothes, loose clothes to hide the curves in our body, we are constantly reminded to not be independent, to almost always have a male escort or travel in groups because what can "we" as women do? "Men will be men" right?


I detest that argument. Aren't men humans too? Are they incapable of having basic control to curb a hard on (for want of a better word), when a good looking girl walks by? Aren't they equipped with a brain: to think, to use logic, to use reason, before behaving obscenely?


Men dont you find it offensive when people think you are incapable of controlling your carnal desires akin to a dog's? Dont you find it offensive when people including our "culture police" make statements like this: "Of course men will get aroused and behave wantonly, if a woman wears tight figure hugging clothes, it is upto the woman to cover up."
Dont you think it is downright appalling to the psyche of a man, when you are considered a wanton and sex starved creature, and women are repeatedly advised to wear layers of clothes, because you, being the nymphomanical animal that you are presumed to be, cannot resist even the sight of a woman in clothes which FIT her?
I am NOT, repeat, not putting down the male of the species here. I am simply trying to make a point that men should find it offensive and insulting to be referred to like this, a lot of men who do not actively partake in eve-teasing ignore the issue, since it does not concern them. So men, it concerns you as much as it concerns us women. Wake up. Please.


Women attempt suicides because of eve-teasing and some are brutally murdered. Other girls have to deal with the life long scars of acid thrown in their faces, because they dont succumb to their perpetuator.


Who is the eve-teaser?


It can be anyone, a father, a brother, a husband or a boyfriend.


Psychologically, eve-teasers harass women to sadistically prove their superiority over women.


Some of them also harass women to fill a void in their life, be it emotionally, sexually or otherwise.


There is no specific age when eve teasing or harassment begins.


A man showed me his organ when I was 10. I was cycling home on my way back from school. As soon as I skirted a turn, this man jumps in front of me with everything hanging out. I was terrified for an instant, but I swerved around him and I sped away.


I was groped in a train when I was 12. I was coming out of the train toilet, when an old man( in his 50's I guess) pushes himself onto me and squeezes my butt.
I scurried around him and I run to my mom. I never left her side for the rest of the journey.


I was felt up my skirt(my school skirt) within a matter of weeks after the train incident, by the bus conductor, in a pretense of helping me get down from the crowded bus.


My breasts have been pinched SEVERAL times in crowded areas and while sitting in an auto during a traffic signal.


Almost every woman goes through the same harassment every day in one form or the other.


Let us look at this scenario:


You are waiting at the bus stop early in the morning, minding your business as usual, when a group of guys sitting on a wall behind the stop, as if on cue, burst out into a loud rendition of "Chholi ke peeche kya hai, chholi ke peechey!" or something like "Anney, madipa pakuraaru, anney idupu a pakkuraaru!"( ohh Brother look at the folds of the hips! Or something like that) .

You valiantly try to ignore them and jump into the next bus which comes along.
To your dismay, the bus is extremely crowded, and to top it off, an old man cannot keep his hands to himself and makes it a point to grope your breast everytime the bus driver applies the brakes and to make matters worse you can feel him getting a hard on.

You have had enough and you decide to get down at the very next stop, but you have to fight through the huge group of guys hanging off the footboard of the bus and you get groped on your way out, by seven pairs of hands atleast.

You are left feeling violated, but you have to go to work/college/school, so you call an auto and get into it and heave a sigh of relief. But your relief is short lived as you notice the auto driver adjusting his rearview mirror to catch glimpses at you, and you try you level best to keep a somber expression and you stubbornly look at the road instead.

At the next signal you are caught off guard by some guy who puts his hand into the auto through the window and pinches your breast(in lightning speed) as he zips by. By the time you get over the shock and the pain, he has sped off and you are left feeling dirty and filthy and all you can think of, is how you need to take a bath. Badly.

Finally you reach your destination and as you walk towards it, you jump out of your skin as a car hurtles towards you, and swerves just before running you over. The driver stops, just in time to cackle loudly along with his cronies at your discomfiture and drives away.

You have had enough. You need that shower. You need to rub that feeling off your skin. Now.


Women, isnt this what you go through, in some form or the other, every, single, day?
Mentally you are traumatised. Paranoia takes over. You dont even want to wear the same clothes that you were wearing "that" day. The day you finally come to terms with it, is the day you get harassed again. All the pseudo bravado is shattered.


So what are you supposed to do?


First and most cardinal, be PSYCHOLOGICALLY prepared for it. Do not be insecure or nervous, that is your downfall. Be cautious and alert instead.


IGNORE all the "good advice" from people, who say that you have to dress in a certain way.


It is as baseless as saying that you got robbed because you were carrying a lot of money. Poor robber what was he supposed to do? He couldnt control himself, because you were carrying a lot of money so its your fault, not the robber's. It is as absurd as that. So wear what you want.


Grow long nails. Very useful.


Gauge the perpetuator. This is very important.


If it is a single guy or a couple of guys, hit back. Please dont remove chappals and try to hit him. It is a WASTE of time and time is the essence here. Carry a huge handbag and fill it up. Hit him with that in the groin area.


If you are comfortable with using your hands and legs use your knee in his groin area, shove your fingers under his adams apple or his eyes( these have worked for me very effectively).


Scream. As loud as you can. As loud as you can possibly be. As loud as your life depends on it. Dont stand there with a stupefied expression on your face.


Walk as if you know where you are going, even if you don't. A potential eveteaser can always pick out a girl who is nervous or insecure or lost.


Take that innocent, 'holier than thou' look off your face. You are only asking for trouble.


And last but definitely not the least, be brave enough to FILE A COMPLAINT. There is nothing wrong with a woman going to a police station. NOTHING. I know you will feel guilty by the disapproving eyes of the policemen at the station. They might even talk you out of filing a case with the laughable plea: "Please, think of this boy/man as your brother/father, do not ruin his life, he has a family". But do not succumb, and just go ahead with a stony face and FILE that complaint. KPS Gill was arrested for slapping Rupan Deol Bajaj on the butt. If she was brave enough to file a complaint against KPS Gill, then you can cough up the courage too.


We have always been told that as girls we should keep our voice, down, our eyes low, that we should never, ever protest and that we should always get used to "men being men".
But women you should learn to give as good as you can get. And what have you got?


So isnt it time you learnt to fight back? To give back?


Women, it's about time that we showed that girls aren't feeble, faint hearted creatures, incapable of fighting back.


Lash out at men who treat us as the so-called weaker sex.


This is not our birthright.


We dont have to live this this.


Post script: For those of you who might argue that the 'scenario' I described above is arbit or whatever.....listen.


That scenario, happened to my 15 year old sister, on her way to school. Every incident, as I had described, happened to her on the same day, one after the other.


P.P.S: This article was brought to my attention by Venkat Ramanan:


Atanu Dey on violence against women.


He gives insightful tips on how to control the menace of street harassment.
So take heed of the plug peeps, and check it out!


- Action Hero Megha Krishnan

Short Shorts: Three: Pretty Flower

She was ten. Brushing her bobbing pigtails one extra time, she patted them down. White, with pink and purple flowers. This was her favorite frock.


Everyone said he was very smart. One day, maybe, you will also go to IIT, they used to tell to her. She couldn’t wait to grow up and be like him. Ravi was her favorite cousin. Always brought her chocolates. Cadbury Eclairs. And took her on piggy-back rides and made her giggle. And when mum wasn’t around, he would sneak her off to get ice cream. Butterscotch.


She sat next to him on the edge of the bed, feet dangling and swinging, and showed him her new painting. I won the second prize for it, she said, her face beaming with pride. That’s very nice. You know, those flowers on your dress are very nice too, he said, as he started to trace their outlines. His fingers slowly ran up her thigh.


She did not want to grow up and be like him. She did not want to grow up.




Written as part of the Blank Noise Blog-a-thon 2006. Although, since this isn’t about street harassment, which is the topic of the blog-a-thon, I am not entirely sure if it qualifies.


Sexual harassment and abuse of children younger than twelve years old constitutes a good percentage of the total reported cases. And yet, the available statistics hardly reflect reality. A large number of children don’t even know how to identify abuse, forget report it. Even more so, when the abuser is a family member.


As adults, we have some ways to oppose harassment. Whether we do or not, is a different matter. But we can yell, scream, try to fight back physically and attempt to raise awareness about it. But what does a child do? Their inherent trust in adults, their fear to question their motives and actions, and their own inability to distinguish between right and wrong often leaves them powerless.


Update : Some contact numbers (Thanks Rajesh and Peter, for the info!)


If you know or suspect that a child is being abused, talk to you local authorities or call

·                In the USStop It Now! at 1-888-PREVENT or The Sexual Abuse Helpline at 1-800-4A-CHILD.

·                In IndiaChildline at 1098.

·                Other countries — Check the Child Helpline International website.



- Action Hero Megha

Blank Noise – More Power

It starts with the way some men look at you differently when you are walking on the road. Then the snide comments, and gleeful vicious snickers which belittle the way you walk across the road, and sometimes it moves to groping you, full on, without shame when you are least expecting it, the experience leaving you dazed.....and then you slowly begin realizing you are no longer the pig tailed school girl, you have transformed into an object. To be eyed all over, looked over, and if you miss a step, felt over.


As much as I love Bombay, the freedom it allows for, and the safety it promises relative to its sister cities, it did leave me feeling sick a few times, when street harrasment made me change certain things about my life, and left an indelible mark I struggled to deal with.


Not counting the usual instances of cat whistles, snide remarks, being followed and groping in crowded places ( and I call them 'usual' not because they were acceptable, but because there were too many to really point towards or narrate), there is one instance which comes to my mind or rather has never left it, simply on account of the illusion of decency the perpetrator exuded.


I will be your father figure, Put your tiny hand in mine, I will be your preacher teacher, Anything you have in mind


At 16, having recently lost a lot of weight, I was enjoying wearing just-above-the-knees denim skirts to college. Now, I was and have always been somewhat of a prude, so I always wore cycling shorts underneath the skirt. One fine afternoon a friend and I were waiting at Matunga railway station and I was in my favorite denim skirt. The scorching sun and boring day had rendered me tired so I was sitting comfortably on one of the benches at the station.


Just then I noticed a gentlemanly looking Parsi uncle sit beside me. I ingored him and was carrying on the usual stream on funny talks with my friend, until he looked straight at me and then at my skirt. I thought he was going to ask the usual questions, 'which college beta?", you know the ones uncle and aunts love asking you ......when suddenly he leaned forward and said quietly, " You have nice thighs', I was shocked and didn't know how to answer, I think I actually said 'okay'. or something to that effect, desperately looking at my friend. Seeing my lack of response did not deter him, he went on to ask, "So what do you do to maintain them, do you massage them with oil", He continued saying certain more things, but by then I had stood up and walked a few steps away, my insides seething with rage and shame. Luckily, the train came, and the man took it. I chose to avoid the same train.


Later on I asked my friend to see if my skirt was looking inappropriate and she actually had the insensitivity to say something like, 'yeah I don't think it's proper', like I actually did something to invite the atrocious and utterly perverse remarks of his. On hindsight, of course I should have hit him, or come up with some rejoinder which should have put him firmly in his place, but I did not. That man actually managed to make me feel cheap. And I never ever wore that skirt again. In fact, I hardly ever wore skirts after that. I feel stupid now, that I let that sorry excuse for a human being make me a victim. I feel even more foolish, that his remarks impacted me the way I dressed, almost alluding that his comment was not out of line, I was. And, that is something, no man, is ever going to make me feel again.


I also became careful thereafter, and learnt the language of dangerous looks and abuses. I learnt the art of survival in the city which was still relatively safer...I also lost some of my innonence.

- Action Hero Menagerie



I stopped wearing red.

Making our way through busy Dadar station market, mom and dad lugged me through the crowds without realizing what their little one was about the experience that day. The crowd didn’t bother me. I was still distracted, as a normal child would be at 9 yrs of age. I was stopping at every shop window admiring the stuff while dad kept pulling me, getting angry and repeating something about missing the train and that it was going to be so crowded now. We got into the mob of commuters at the station, and before I knew what was happening I felt someone touch my bum crack. No, not a hand brushing against it. And in a minute the same hand on my crotch. I could hear my heart beat louder but I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t scream. It continued till we waited while my dad got tickets for us. I remember standing on the side still holding my mum’s hand. But I couldn’t see, or didn’t dare to see who was feeling me up. I was desperate to hop on to the next coming train, but dad thought it better to miss this one. I was nervous as hell. As a kid fear made me clench my jaws so hard, my ears and jaws would hurt, for days. I then moved to side against the stairs and that’s when I saw the man waving at me. he kept making signs at me as if asking me go to him. I hide from his view and he would come around to the other side. My agony ended when we finally got into the train and it started to move. I wanted to throw up.


It wasn’t the end of it. Next few months, I lived in gripping fear. I was convinced that the man would find me again. Maybe he followed me. Or maybe he put a chip on me to trace my home and me. I didn’t get out of the house, if I was left alone at home I would cry, which was unusual for a ‘strong girl’ like me. I was wearing a red frock with a big white frill jacket and red ribbons on my plaits that day. I could not touch that dress; I couldn’t wear that color, for years to come.


It wasn’t my first experience and definitely not my last. I doesn’t matter whom you are with. You can flaunt a ‘mangalsutra’ around your neck if you want. It doesn’t discourage them. I went through phases of suffering silently, even after the blow on my breast hurt like hell, fighting back, beating them in public and finally learning to duck, turn, ignore, avoid at the right time.


I learnt a few things. Making a noise in public sometimes helps, they fight with you. But most of the times people will look at you as if you did something wrong by retaliating. Best to avoid eye contact, yet be on your guard. Keep your temper under control. You can’t change the world.

Making our way through busy Dadar station market, mom and dad lugged me through the crowds without realizing what their little one was about the experience that day. The crowd didn’t bother me. I was still distracted, as a normal child would be at 9 yrs of age. I was stopping at every shop window admiring the stuff while dad kept pulling me, getting angry and repeating something about missing the train and that it was going to be so crowded now. We got into the mob of commuters at the station, and before I knew what was happening I felt someone touch my bum crack. No, not a hand brushing against it. And in a minute the same hand on my crotch. I could hear my heart beat louder but I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t scream. It continued till we waited while my dad got tickets for us. I remember standing on the side still holding my mum’s hand. But I couldn’t see, or didn’t dare to see who was feeling me up. I was desperate to hop on to the next coming train, but dad thought it better to miss this one. I was nervous as hell. As a kid fear made me clench my jaws so hard, my ears and jaws would hurt, for days. I then moved to side against the stairs and that’s when I saw the man waving at me. he kept making signs at me as if asking me go to him. I hide from his view and he would come around to the other side. My agony ended when we finally got into the train and it started to move. I wanted to throw up.

It wasn’t the end of it. Next few months, I lived in gripping fear. I was convinced that the man would find me again. Maybe he followed me. Or maybe he put a chip on me to trace my home and me. I didn’t get out of the house, if I was left alone at home I would cry, which was unusual for a ‘strong girl’ like me. I was wearing a red frock with a big white frill jacket and red ribbons on my plaits that day. I could not touch that dress; I couldn’t wear that color, for years to come.


It wasn’t my first experience and definitely not my last. I doesn’t matter whom you are with. You can flaunt a ‘mangalsutra’ around your neck if you want. It doesn’t discourage them. I went through phases of suffering silently, even after the blow on my breast hurt like hell, fighting back, beating them in public and finally learning to duck, turn, ignore, avoid at the right time.


I learnt a few things. Making a noise in public sometimes helps, they fight with you. But most of the times people will look at you as if you did something wrong by retaliating. Best to avoid eye contact, yet be on your guard. Keep your temper under control. You can’t change the world.

- Action Hero Miko!


Somewhere over the rainbow.

This is my itty-bitty contribution for the Blank Noise Project's blog-athon and is dedicated to Hemangini. The courage that you showed was 15 years too late for me, but perhaps 15 years in time for my daughter.


I was raised in a fairly liberal community where your race, gender, religion or sexuality was never a barrier to anything you wanted to do in life. In high school I was woefully average but I had a good group of friends whom I held close to my heart. I spent 10 months in India in-between high school and university. This move was equal parts of finding more about the place I came from as well as taking a break. However, the day I touched down in Kerala, I regretted my decision for coming. I'm not sure if it was my clothes or hair or demeanor but people, mainly men, leered and stared. I cried when my dad dropped me off at the hostel which would be my home away from home for the next year. Luckily, my older sister was with me and I have never felt so grateful for the company. She quickly made friends with some people and I just enjoyed spending time with my journal and my music. (U2 and New Order helped me through those first few weeks). Within a few months we were in 2 distinct groups. My sister was with a sweet group that listened to every rule and spent a lot of time studying whereas I was with a group of girls identified as rabble-rousers. This clearly had more to do with how they dressed then anything else. They were all girls who received high marks but happened to be raised in Kuwait and dressed in jeans. I quickly became known as "the American" and had a great time with my friends. The funny thing was that our reputation was far-more outlandish than what we were actually doing. We were hardly ever late for our curfew and if we were, it was because we waited too long to decide that we must go get some food to to sustain us for the night (the hostel food was pretty bad). Most times, the watchman would let us through if we gave him a meatpuff or a package of cookies. However, some nights the mean administrator lady would be waiting for us and lecture us about how proper young women do not walk in the street alone once the sun sets. One time, this same woman pulled me aside and said that I seemed like a sweet girl and I shouldn't let my reputation be ruined by my association with these other girls. I was stunned. There was NOTHING in these girl's behavior that warranted such comments. I thanked her for her concern and ran and told my friends. They laughed off the comment and said their marks spoke themselves and I shouldn't take stock in what she said. About a week later, 4 of us were making our usual bakery run when my friend and I turned around to find a man exposing himself to us. I still dry-heave when I think of his face as he stroked himself. My friend and I were too stunned to talk but when our friend Nina turned and saw what was happening she started yelling at the top of her lungs. She made quite a scene and someone identified the man as a tailor who had a shop down the street. The 4 of us ran back to the hostel and quickly told the head lady. She asked what we expected when we ran around in jeans and t-shirts.


There are other incidents such as being "accidentally" groped while on a bus or being verbally accousted when my friend wore a sundress. Back then I didn't have the courage to say anything. However, the birth of my children has assured that a stranger's wayward hand or sexual innuendo will never again pass unanswered.

- Action Hero Mint Chutney



She was going to her friend's house for a night over. She was almost there - just had to round the corner, when she saw four of them walking - two on one side of the road, and two on the other. They seemed to fairly young guys, talking loudly and singing popular songs. The road was empty, but well lit. She brushed away the semi-reflexive fears that jumped up in her mind. After all - the road was well lit and she was almost there. What would be the point in turning back and taking an alternate route and she was on a bicycle...


She picked up speed - trying to race through the four of them. Each person seemed to be a part of a well co-ordinated group. One after another, they grabbed her breasts - left, right, left, right. She turned into her friend's house, totally dazed. She hated her shirt. Hated it.


What could she tell her mom, when asked why her shirt was so dirty? Her Shirt? She felt so dirty. Could you wash me in the washing machine too, mom? Dry sobs...


Mom's reaction : I shall get a new shirt. This has become too tight, anyways. And you should know to dress up according to your surroundings. (where did that come from?!!!)


Brother's reaction : I shall drop you and pick you up from school tomorrow. (Will you follow me whereever I go? What if I want to go some place alone?)


Father's reaction : Discomfort about the topic on the whole, followed by a quick exit out of the house for a long walk. (Dont tell me that all men are alike! - I dont want to believe that!!!)


Her reaction(s)


for the remaining two years of high school : Wouldnt go to tuition classes through short cuts, wouldnt go out anywhere after dark alone.


through three years of bachelors degree : took the ladies special buses as much as she could.


through two years of masters : wouldnt date anybody
after coming to the US : broke up with an absolutely amazing person. couldnt let him touch her. The memories still clung, washed up her entire being in waves of repulsiveness...


nearly 15 years and two masters degrees later : Martial arts...


How many women have the chance of pursuing the skills they feel they need to survive in this world? How many women want to live a life of their own, long for an independent identity? How many men will look beyond blobs of fat at the differents parts of the female anatomy? How many parents will actively teach their children to respect the personal space of other beings and to stand up for themselves, if their space is threatened?


Her parents now want her to get married. They dont want her to run (too much sports will cause hormonal problems...). They do not know that she practices martial arts... How much longer do we have to walk this road alone?


Moral support is the least I can give right now. With you all the way!


-Action Hero Moonlit Rainbows

Public Transport in India and My Misadventures


I was waiting at a crowded metro station for the train to come. It was hot and sultry, my shirt was sticking to my back. I was dreading the jostle that would follow the arrival of the train. My companion was oblivious; she seemed not to have a care in the world. The crowd did not daunt her the way it got to me. How I envied her!


I hate traveling in crowded public transport in India. So many times, I have picked up a fight. I remember an educated young guy, who was sitting too close for my comfort in a bus, telling me to travel by auto when I objected and asked him to move aside. Another time, I just took a cigarette from a guy’s hand and threw it out of the bus window because he would not stop smoking even after repeated requests. There have been wandering hands (on so many occasions) in my direction and my loud protests, even an occasional pushing away someone rudely and physically. All these scenes were passing through my mind while I was waiting.


Finally, the train arrived and I moved along with my friend to board it. Somehow, we were the first few people to get inside. I was bracing myself to face the crowd as they started pouring in. My jaws dropped up to my knees as I found people, guys actually, tiptoeing around me to get in.


No, I was not dreaming. I was boarding the train in Singapore (it was way back in 1999) and it was my first ever visit abroad. Having experienced only the Indian crowd (which is rowdy in most of the cities, apart from a few exceptions) I expected the same hassles there. My friend had been staying in Singapore for the past three years and thus was totally unconcerned.


How I wish this scene would become true of India in my lifetime, but I have very little hope.


-Action Hero Mridula

The Blank Noise Project against street harrasment - The coward who changed my life I used to feel that they’d always intimidate me.

That no matter how old I grew, however wise or however brave, I wouldn’t be able to get over that feeling. It’s hard to describe it – I wouldn’t call it fear, for I was never scared of them. Rather, it was a mixture of indignation, intimidation and sadly, even shame. So I’d always be on my guard in busy places, markets, parks, cinema halls – eyes alert, arms firmly by my side, hoping that I wouldn’t feel that purposeful grip or brush against my body – that unsanctioned touch that infuriated me but which I knew I’d do nothing about. They intimidated me, you see.


That was then.


In time, I made a strange discovery, one that I hadn’t ever thought possible to be a fact – They were cowards. Inside, they were nothing more than small minded , mouse like, sleazy, cowards. It happened one day when I was walking on a busy footpath. Coming towards me from the opposite direction was a man who seemed intent to walk right into me, despite there being ample space on the either side of me. Attempting to stem the discomfort that was beginning to rise in me, I decided to try a new strategy – I continued walking, raised my head high, shoulders straight back and looked at him. Right into his two eyes. Square. He met my gaze for a while but didn’t hold it for too long. He slowed his pace, the leer on his face began to fade away, he looked away, and stepped out of my way. Not for one moment till we’d passed each other did I break eye contact with him.


I realised that day, that they were not worth the dignity my meekness had been granting to them. In a way, that day changed my life. After athat, when I detected intimidation rising in my chest, I’d dispell it immediately with the memory of the coward.


They say you win half the battle when you’ve conquered fear of it. I was determined not to shut up and swallow humiliation anymore – in buses, on streets, in trains, busy market places because I hated what my silence , our silence , had done for them. Small, mouse-like , sleazy cowards. It had elevated them to heights of bravado and arrogance that they did not have in them to achieve in any other way. I decided I wasn’t going to be part of it anymore and I was always going to make a scene.


And so I did.


“ Thik se khade nahi reh sakte bus mein?” (can’t you stand properly in a bus?) I’d yell loudly for all to hear. And I’d watch as he shuffled his feet, mumbled something incoherently, and looked away, keeping a great deal of a distance from me now.


“Move your hand, I have to sit here” I once said loudly to an elderly man sitting next to me in a train, who most coincidently always placed his hand on the seat I was going to sit in before I sat in it.


Old men, young men, middle aged men, married men, high school boys, fathers, grandfathers. I felt I was going to run out of puke.


“If you touch me again, I’ll break your bloody hands and then take you to the principal” – this was a college canteen waiter who most unfortunately picked the wrong person to get funny with. I never saw him after that – the man who would lie in wait for me to walk down the corridoor so he could walk past me every day. This was one of the most satisfying days of my life. There were so many people I knew sitting there– students, laboratory assistants, teachers – I felt like just shutting up and just forgetting about it, shoving it to the back of my head. But I couldn’t. My mind wouldn’t let me – it kept reminding me of what this kind of attitude had done for women in my country - Are you going to be part of the problem or the solution, Nayan? - It seemed to scream at me. I had to make a scene.


It angers me so much now when I see women on streets, in buses, movie halls, shopping malls, trains being harrassed either verbally or physically and keeping their mouths shut. It happens everywhere – they just shut up, forget about it, push it away from their minds. They begin to accept it as a part of their ‘lot’ by virtue of being a woman. It makes my blood boil.


And yet, there are times I feel that perhaps I’m wrong in thinking like this – after all, it isn’t easy to face one’s fears. And who am I to decide that all women must /are obliged to behave in a way I deem right. There are so many dimensions to the problems and so many sub-issues involved here, the biggest one being the socio-cultural set up in India that moulds the two sexes in different ways – something I believe responsible for most, if not all our country’s problems today.


“India has finally arrived” , Boink said to me. And that set me thinking. Bush is here with flowers, the arm of friendship, and the offer of collaboration. Our GDP rises steadily, Economy’s going great guns, Sensex breaks new barriers every fortnight, Indian techies seem to be the need of the hour, women have revolutionised themselves with jobs, security, money – independence.


The tragedy is – the mindset seems to be unchanged. Inspite of all the liberation and emancipation, we’re still intimidated. Intimidated by small-minded, mouselike, sleazy, cowardly men.


It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad

-Action Hero Mriganayanii

Why Did You Touch Her?

Last week, while I was eating lunch, my sister was reading the newspaper-an article about AIDS and how some men still sought out young virgin girls to "cure" them of the disease. Suddenly she casually mentioned the ex-cook of someone we used to know. He used to grope me, she said. Filled with rage and shock, I just stared at her, unable to say anything. AP, another cook, still with some friends, had dealt with him, she told me. This wasn't the first time my sister had been groped or sexually assaulted, but I don't know why she chose to tell me of this particular incident only now.


For the past week I've been filled with a feeling of impotent rage and misery and bad memories. The feeling that I could not protect my sister. Memories of the many times I myself have been felt up. Memories of one night in the hostel at college when some of us girls got together, talking about some of the worst times in our lives.


I first remember being pinched at Grant Road Market, where I had gone shopping with my mother. I was standing near a cart piled with whatever wares the vendor was selling, holding my mother's hand. I was so young, I had no breasts to pinch. Yet this man came by and did just that and then started running away. My mother turned and I blurted out what had happened and she ran after him. He was caught, by her and some other people, and severely beaten, taken away by the police.


Other times, I didn't have my mother with me. Like the time I went to a magazine shop and was grabbed and groped from behind. I came back home, tears running down my cheeks and kept showering, as if that would somehow make things better.


Then there was a time in some small town in the South, between school and Chennai, when I was in a moving auto rickshaw and a guy reached his arm inside to get a feel. I felt like there were spiders crawling all over me. At that time I had 15 year old A next to me (now my husband) who saw what was happening and yanked me inside. We didn't even see his face, he sped off on a motorbike.


There was the taxi driver I once passed who flashed. If I came across a flasher today, I would think he was just pathetic and report him to the police. But I was 11 then and absolutely shocked, so much so that I was trembling.


The list just goes on-grew when I went to Delhi. Never travelled on the bus without a sharp object.


I don't know what triggered it, but one night some of us girls were sitting together in my room-mates and my room in the hostel. We were talking about being groped, sexually assaulted, raped. Not a single one of us had escaped. Not a single one. The stories came out slowly, most of them never talked about before.


S was regularly assaulted by her cousin. She was only seven and didn't understand what was happening. Her cousin threatened her and told her not to tell anyone. Until one day, her mother found her wearing sperm sodden underwear while helping her change. Her mother, a widow in a small town, confronted the family. They denied everything and accused her of maligning their son.


My best friend N, who told me everything, but hadn’t told me or anyone else this, suddenly revealed she had been molested by her own cousin. Taken into backrooms. And then later, by her sister's father-in-law, in a car, when he'd taken her out shopping.


Another friend, raped, because she turned down the advances of a man who kept chasing her.


I haven't talked about this issue with my friends and colleagues here in the UK, but I don't have a single Indian girlfriend who hasn't been groped or sexually assaulted in one way or another. Not a single one. It happened to my mother, it happened to me, it happened to my sister, it happened to my friends. It continues to happen.


-Action Hero MumbaiGirl


This is a subject that fills me with rage. Not just mere anger, annoyance or irritation. R A G E. It's one of those things that makes me feel homicidal. And that's putting it mildly. To think that 100% of women in India also feel the same way infuriates me even more. This is a problem that is not going to go away. Not while most Indian men are still brought up with the idea that it is 'okay' to feel up every girl or woman that crosses their path.


The Blank Noise Project is a very interesting project that is fighting to make street harrasment (or eve teasing) unacceptable. That's the word that should define how we women react to being talked to, touched or looked at on the street - UNACCEPTABLE.


I grew up having a tough vision of myself as a woman. My gender, as a child, a teenager or in my 20s, was never a disadvantage. My mum taught us to be very, fiercely proud of ourselves. Sadly, the rest of the city did not have such wonderfully feminist mothers. Growing up one had to deal with all sorts of men- those that just 'thought' (and you could see it in their faces) or those that actually 'tried'.


Just thinking about all those incidents makes my blood boil. The innumerable times to and from school & college where the bus conductor brushed against women in the bus deliberately. I stopped taking the bus if I saw that conductor. (As a teenager, you just wanted to get to where you were going without any hassle - stamping on the conductors foot often did not help.)


Then there were the creeps at railway stations who would push against you and protest that it was an accident if you made a noise (or if they were slapped or hit with my trustworthy brolly, as I was wont to do).


Or those fellows in buses who took up more than their fair share of the seat, legs splayed wide. If a polite request to glue their knees together didn't work, I have been known to call the conductor and complain about the harrasment resulting in getting the creep thrown out of the bus.


Or what about those men who sit on the seat behind you in a BEST bus and then proceed to touch you from the gap between the seat and the bus wall. Some of them have since wished they were born without fingers, but the city (and country) is still teeming with them, with more coming out of the woodwork every minute.


I won't even bother to talk about those who expose themselves at bus stops or those that pinch you as you walk by in a crowd. There are just too many.


For all these and more, I have always responded. In retrospect, sometimes not very wisely. Retaliation, however, was an instinct. Keeping quiet or 'accepting' it was not part of the deal.


My penchant for anger at such incidents was so great that I know my mum often feared for my safety till I got back home. But there was no way I was letting anybody get away with this. No way. As far as I was concerned, nobody has a right to touch me without my permission. Nobody. If they did, it was asking for trouble.


Being in England has been so vastly liberating for me. I cannot even begin to express what a relief it is to be able to walk down a crowded road and have men maintain a safe distance from you. It's not about me being Indian or not attractive enough. As women of all ages, shapes,size or color will testify, none of those things matter. And your clothes certainly do not contribute to your harrasment. Being completely covered is not a pre-requisite to being safe.


Here, I not only walk without having to twist my body away each time I see a man bearing down upon me like a freight train, but gratefully, I can run. I can run on pavements and public streets and not be heckled. I can run or take a brisk walk and not be propositioned. I feel no fear when I run in the dark. You can be mugged of course, but that's a different kind of crime we are talking about.


Here, I can wear almost anything I want and feel comfortable enough to go out - knowing that I won't hear lewd comments or have a hand up my top. In the past year or so that I've been here, I have not had one experience that has made me feel uncomfortable about being a woman. Not one. And that's something to say for this country which has many negative points as far as accomodating people from other countries goes.


For that reason alone, I will be sorry to leave England.


The Blank Noise Project is hosting a Blog-a-thon on 7th March. If you want to participate, send them an email at


Shoefie sums it up eloquently saying, "Worse things have happened to others. But what binds us is our silence."


How true.


Join in the debate. The least we can do is make a noise.


-Action Hero Mumbaiwallah

So many stories

My head hurts.


I've been reading the entries for the Blank Noise Project's blog-a-thon and I'm shaking. So many stories, so much anger, fear, rage. There's a chill up my spine and it's not due to the steady rain falling outside. I feel like screaming right now. So many stories...


My mum emails to comment on my post. She says it's a relief to be a woman in your fifties. You can walk more freely, she says wryly. I don't want to be fifty before I can walk without holding a bag in front of my chest protectively or ramming my elbow into someone who's intruded too far into my space. I don't want to spend a walk down the street dodging outstretched palms and twisting my torso to protect myself. I want to be able to climb into a bus or train and not feel violated. Someday?


Annie's post brought tears. I found myself nodding vigorously, agreeing with every word; every sentence rang true. Everybody has a story to tell and they are all different versions of the same tale. Most of my female co-bloggers have a post. Mumbaigirl, Shoefie, Mridu, Keya...


Will this ever end?


-Action Hero Mumbaiwallah

Letter to an old acquaintance

Hello mister pervert,


Remember me? I often bump into you on the street. In fact, we met twice today; once in the morning when I made my way to work and you complimented me on my dark goggles and fair complexion by singing a line of a Hindi film song, and then in the evening when you invited me to a bagiya.


Okay, now that you recollect who I am, let me take this opportunity to thank you for umpteen gifts you have bestowed on me. Let me beign with the gift of early revelation. I remember meeting you for the first time when I was around 12. It was a hot summer afternoon and I was walking back from a video store when you gave me the first ever glimpse of a wee-wee. Thanks ever so much for helping me grow up before time.


Mister ageless man, thanks for always being around. Friends may come and go, but you have always been there. Giving me that look as I walked back from school, making me run past the dark alley after a late tution class, whistling when I rushed for an early morning lecture with hair still wet, twitching my breast as I walked with my mother, trying to rub against me in a crowded have never let me feel unwanted.


Thanks for scaring my family. You also get the credit for ridding me of three girlfriends whose marriage I could not attend as my family feared you would make an appearance as I got back home. Yeah, and that rafting trip I could never take, thanks to you, old pal.


Mister man-from-no-particular-social-strata, you are also the one to be thanked for putting me off boys in my teens. You made sure I never went for moon-lit walks, I never ate ice cream on the green-dewy lawns of India Gate at midnight, I stayed home on the eve of millennium, and I never wasted time on a lot of other such meaningless experiences.


After all it is my fault that I am a girl. A girl who needs to be safe. A girl who needs to think three times before visiting a friend late in the evening. A girl who has learned to inwardly smile at lewd invitations for a quickie behind the wall. A girl who is looked at as an object. And, you are the man of suppressed desires and overflowing frustration. You need an outlet. I understand. However, I do not want you to meet my future daughter. Do you understand? I do not want you to scare my little girl out of her wits while she is on a trip to Vaishno Devi with her friends. I do not want you to soil my daughter's fond memories of the first kiss. I will not let you. Today, I promise myself that I'll take the first small but meaningful step to ensure my future child's safety. I will call 1091 the next time I see you.


Yours sincerely,

mystic chick



-Action Hero Mystic Chick


I see a kid shine in her eyes. She beats me at who-has-most-scars-on-the-body. She has them all, broken bones, stitches, bruises, even dog bites and scratches. “Of course” she says with a grin, “I can’t show you how many scars I gave those dogs.”


The dogs who violated the woman in her, she couldn’t hurt them back. How she wishes.


How I wish.

- Action Hero Namit Chaturvedi

Smash, drip and evaporate...learn to be a woman.

After reading through the various posts at this brilliant blog and sifting through my own experiences and bloody extractions,I have written this piece...


and it's still in process...


Smash smash smash.The satisfying sound of the glass crashing down .The time standing still for those few seconds .The liberation.The sexy crunch of the glass…




But that feeling is too much to ask of this world. So I smash my mind instead .And heart doesn’t soar … Like it should at the sound of breaking rules. The smashed bloody mind just takes it silently… No fun there, I tell you!


I should be ‘losing control’ the way men on the bikes did in ‘Rang De Basanti’ .While the pretty girls cheered them on .Didn’t they make your body pulsate with what all that you want to do? Not mine though! I was too busy giving in to control.
Screams free you! They did that too Naseeruddin Shah in Hero Heeralal But what happens to the screams of the heroines?


Heroines…the babes who get raped and after some eve teasing fall in love and promptly touch the feet of the savior husband after the interval.
I am telling you there can be nothing as awe inspiring as the justice of the Hindi films. Nothing as spiritually elevating.


see it's like this-You sexually molest me and I fall in love with you instantly…okay?
And then I marry you and I look up to you all my life…okay? So what I have done is that I have begged you to save me from yourself…understood?


Also add to it some economics .Isn’t it more cost effective to rape me every night? After that genius stroke of ‘mangalsutra’ .Than to rape me just once in while. Also now you can focus on so many more freelance rapes…


Marriage is all about common sense, my love.


And believe me I am going to slap the next, educated person who complains about the aimless youth…especially men. Seriously, get a life dude!


Aimless? Unemployed? Look at all the hard work that they put in.
First they decide what a beautiful woman should look like
Small waist. Toned thighs Cute ass? The poor men …they have to constantly decide whether bigger is better…or maybe it should be small and firm… then...Smooth skin…no pimples…not dark


Not too big, not too small, not too sagging, not too perked up- breasts.
And if you feminist… loser… loner whatever shit they call you these days
Don’t come up to the standards they have to fail you and you can curl up in your bed alone and let your heart shrivel up. And this is just in short what all they have to keep an eye on.



Then the other group swings in action . See.they are men and therefore practical so they divide the work amongst them …fine?


So the other groups sit in various, inconvenient, uncomfortable places like buses and roads nd offices and homes .And then they have to pinch, grope, maul, twist, slap
and do all that physically excruciating work … because the bloody women always look enticing…


And they have to do that

You think it’s fun for them.

You think they enjoy this.

They ask irritably and wearily.

And I feel sorry for the poor darlings

Can they help it…that unfortunate hard-on and all that

When they see anything that resembles a woman

And they must despite themselves

do all of the above.

Please understand na,

They are men…

What can they do?


Yesterday i was watching Madagascar and the most fantastic part of the film according to me is where Alex the lion is frantic with worry and he cages himself and asks himself and later his Zebra friend if he is really a monster...with all the hunger that is killing him and all the temptations around he is petrified of himself....and I wondered if any of the molestors have had that dillemma ...are they actually monsters from inside?


Alex the lion won the battle with his monster self by the way...


- Action Hero Nandini Arora

highlighting a social evil


easy to say - "it only happens to other people", and "im not responsible for it".
fact is , eve-teasing will touch your life even if you dont indulge in it , or are victimized by it.


as a upstanding member of the human species , i find it reprehensible that guys would indulge in passing filthy remarks about people who are daughters, wives, mothers.
as much as i'd like to ignore it happens , it does.


The people in the position to halt it OFFICIALLY shrug off responsibility by saying "she's to blame for it!" and "western attire will invite that" .... i happen to believe that is RANK BULLSHIT.


im sure that girls wearing demure shalwar kameezes and saris too have been 'molested verbally'...and their attitude has NOTHING to do with the misdemeanour.


as i started to say before, its all about the ability to decide not to - the fact that there's a pretty girl on the street , does NOT warrant for a guy to go ahead and invite her attentions, by means fair or foul.


Hindi MAINSTREAM cinema, has a bit to contribute, in its wanton celebration of "Hero playing the bad guy, wins the attention of the heroine". maybe the people who indulge in Eve-teasing, do NOT have the necessary reasoning power to respect ANY girl.


a guy trying to stop this will either be beaten up , or come to worse bodily harm. at best, he can be told "teri kya lagti hai ?".


like ragging , as in eve-teasing, the best way to cure this social ill is summed up in a phrase from "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Hermann Melville.


"I Choose Not To "


-Action Hero Neel


I’ve only had this blog for about seven months and one of my most powerful entries was about when I was harassed on the street by a man.


I have been trying to wrap my head around the global reach of eve-teasing, or street harassment, for as long as I can remember being aware of it. I grew up in the United States but have been traveling back to see my family in West Bengal every few years or so since I was born. When I was young, my parents allowed me to wear shorts and t-shirts in India as I squirmed under the intense heat. Then, as I morphed into a young adult, I joined the rest of the women who made sure we were suitably dressed when we left the house – breasts submerged under the careful folds of our dupattas or fitted under the layers of sari. My brother continued to wear shorts and tank-tops, much to my irritation. But even as a pre-teen, I saw it. The stares on the street, the way women kept their heads down or their eyes averted. I wasn’t used to it. When I was younger, I thought of it as a game. How many men will I look in the eye and shock today? How many men will I smile at from this passing car? At that point I felt empowered in my ignorance, and perhaps innocence. I felt as though these women were putting their heads down and avoiding these stares because they were conservative. I felt that this was just the root of my own mother’s anxious cautioning about boys that ruined my burgeoning social life back in the States.


I remember once when I was out shopping with my mother and aunt at New Market, or some place that was an early incarnation of the new fancy malls they have in Kolkata now. It must have been summer and I remember dawdling a few feet behind my mother, since I was always worn out by the heat and didn’t have the stamina for shopping that I do now. I remember that the market was dim, barely lit by the fluorescent lights in the ceiling. The floor was dusty and my feet were dragging. Suddenly, as is want to happen, the market went pitch black because of load shedding. It was probably just 30 seconds or so before the generators came on but when I could see again, my mother was right by my side looking panicked. She grabbed my arm harshly and started yelling at me. “Why are you lagging? You have to stay next to me!” I was so surprised by her anger. I remember pulling my arm away and being bratty because I didn’t understand. As she pulled me along, she said that I had to be careful because men in India would do bad things to you. The moment sticks out to me because I saw so much fear in her eyes at that moment. It wasn’t until much later that I understood that my mother, like most women in India, had experienced eve-teasing and was just trying to protect me.


When I was in India last year, I wrote this article about the connections I saw between technology and sexuality. I got a lot of responses from young men in India who commented on what they thought was a contradiction: How I thought of myself as sexually liberated and then complained about men staring on the street. I felt like this idea – that women are asking for it – is the biggest problem that prevents eve-teasing and street harassment from ending. I’ve actually learned a lot about the issue in India by just perusing the Blank Noise site this past few days leading up to the Blog-a-thon. There are some really interesting articles on the legality behind sexual harassment laws in India.


I always find that sexual harassment and safety issues come up with my girlfriends when we are traveling. Last year when I was in India, I kept trying to separate the fear that my family instilled in my head with reality. Were cab drivers really going to abduct me and sell me into slavery? If I walked alone on the street after dusk was I really going to be harassed to the point of danger? This also happened when I was traveling in South and Central America. Every time I found myself buying into the rhetoric that men in India and Mexico were much more egregious street harrassers, I would think about my daily existence in the United States where I am constantly dealing with men making comments to me. Regardless of where I am in the world, I refuse to bow my head to this disempowerment. I am thinking of getting a camera phone just so I can participate in the Holla Back project.

 - Action Hero Neela

Its a war we fight every day


From my first time on a local bus till date, it has been a constant battle. I remember the first time a disgusting hand gropped me. I was 15 then. I was so scared, that I didn't want to continue with my tuitions. My parents were understanding, they arranged for alternative means of transportation. A temporary respite. In college it began again. Everyday in the bus it was about surviving without an incident that leaves you feeling flithy and disgusted. Everyday was about self preservation through the public transport system. If you asked me for a profile of the kind of men to stay away from in the buses, I won't be able to. I have seen these men come in all ages, in all forms. From words, to looks , to gestures, to trying to touch you .. they will do anything.


Within a year I learnt how to stop being a victim and start protecting myself. Return the look with the stare that tells them you are not scared, Raise your voice and get the crowd on your side.. in metros men will be ready to beat up almost anyone, as if to release all their frustrations. I learnt to do it all.


But it wasn't enough. Because I wasn't the only one going through this. I protected myself, but then I would see other women, girls going through the same thing. Probably they had learnt to keep quiet rather than raise your voice. My reactions were still the same... The same disgust.


I would see the same looks, gestures, hands targetted at others. I knew I couldn't sit silently so I raised my voice again.


So instead of trying survive the bus myself, my fights became about making sure that others survived it too.


Yes, I learnt to survive. That is not the point. The point is Why did I need to learn it? What is wrong with this society that a girl has to fight her away through a 15 min trip on a public bus. When did we become so depraved?


The question I can't help asking is how much longer do I need to keep fighting? Can someone please answer...

-Action Hero Neha Paruthi

Online Activism

 I was only 11 when I first realized that as a member of the 'weaker sex' I was vulnerable, and could easily fall prey to sexual abuse. But I had the power of education and a supporting family to teach me and protect me.

Not everyone is as fortunate as I am, and more often than not, sexual abuse - both physical and verbal goes unreported and almost always, unpunished.

It is commendable that now both women and men are waking up to this bitter reality and putting their heads together to curb it.

Blank Noise Project is an online activism forum which is inviting people to come together and express solidarity with words. Their 'Blog-a-thon 2006' is a 'marathon' to make blog posts, and build testimonies against street harassment in the public space.

I understand that it will be a herculean task to put an end to social evils like eve-teasing, molesting and sexual abuse. And as long as the people in power continue to twiddle their thumbs over grave matters such as these, and pointing fingers at a woman's morals; it is the 'common woman' who has to take action. Whether it is a young woman travelling in a crowded bus, or a school girl walking down the alley - we have to worry

-Action Hero Neeta Shenoy