On Violence Against Women

Street sexual harassment is something that women have to contend with in India. While generally true, I have heard that the degree of harassment varies from city to city. Delhi is especially bad but Kolkata is a much safer place for women. It appears that in Kolkata, people take an interest in what is going on around them, and if they notice a woman being assaulted, they actively discourage the behavior by beating the crap out of the person. It is part of the culture and everyone knows. It basically is common knowledge: that if you are considering harassing a woman in public, you are likely to get beaten up; and if you the third party, you are expected to either initiate the roughing up or join in enthusiastically in the edification of the criminal.

Beating up guys for assaulting women is a second best response. It would be much better if they could be dealt by the law enforcement. But then there are better things for the law enforcement to do. Yet, there are ways of fixing the problem without too much effort. You don’t have to police people everywhere everyday for years on end. The society has to take a stance and decide to change the “culture” of violence against women. The cost is front-loaded but it is a one-time cost. Here is what you do.

Publish and make it known that violence against women will not be tolerated from such and such a date onwards. Make that date a few months into the future. Plaster the notice on such places where potential assaulters will have the opportunity to know that there will be zero tolerance for the crime. Make it known that the punishment will be exemplary and harsh.

Then go out and on that specified day, catch a few guilty of street violence against some women. Throw the book at them and report the incidents far and wide. Let it be shown on TV, talked about on the radio, discussed in the pages of the newspapers. Let the pictures of the guilty be published all over the place as if they were movie stars. Do this every few weeks and I guarantee that in a few months, street violence against women will be a thing of the past. The culture would have changed.

It is tolerance of what should not be tolerated that causes problems. People consider it acceptable—both the criminal and the victim take it as part of the way that the world operates. But if the signal goes out that that something will not be tolerated, people figure out the changed circumstances and respond appropriately.

You may recall what happened to the 18-year old American kid, Michael Fay, who was arrested in 1994 for vandalizing cars in Singapore. They caned him, since that was the punishment, and they did that despite pleas for clemency from the President of the US. The incident was well publicized and with good reason: the Singaporeans wanted to make sure that they did not have to cane too many people. People are rational beings and are quite capable of figuring out that vandals are punished severely in Singapore and alter their behavior appropriately.

The punishment for street violence against women, in my opinion, should be caning, followed by 100 hours of community service—picking up trash from the streets. Trash should be forced to pick up trash.

Impoliteness and rudeness in society is a symptom of deeper problems, rather than a problem in itself. While it is good to address the symptoms, it is also necessary to understand why it exists and what can be done to address its cause. That is a difference and long discussion, however.

- Action Hero Atanu Dey

Original post on http://www.deeshaa.org



Blank Noise - Why There Are No Superheroes!

Have been reading up a lot on eve-teasing and related sexual crimes recently owing mainly to the Blanknoise project to create awareness about the issue. I think a "blogathon" on the issue is a great idea. But I decided to do something different with my spot on this blogathon.

I have read a lotta posts regarding experiences of eve-teasing & quite frankly some have been quite disconcerting. But suggestions like castration and the like aside, I wanted to consider why these offenders can be so brazen with their ways. Without falling into the trap of providing statistics, I refuse to believe that a majority of men are eve-teasers, even though most may think it's ok because "she asked for it".

I think the reason why they are so brazen is... the same reason why all criminals/fundamentalists/etc etc are so brazen - the silent majority will not as much as raise a finger to stop them unless they feel that their safety is not being compromised.

Two seperate incidents to make my point (both of which are NOT fiction by the way)

Incident #1:

This happened 3 years ago, when I was still in class XII. I was waiting on this bus stop (La Marts near Minto Park, Kolkata) for a bus home from school. There was also these two slightly shady looking characters who were singing the usual "ek ladki ko dekha to" songs directed to this young college-going female, not beyond her 1st year Iam sure.

Then perhaps taking courage from the apathy of the other people present (there were about 7-8 men), the comments became more personal. They started openly discussing about her boobs & what they wanted do to them. The girl tried to put a brave front by ignoring them altogether but the comments actually became more crude, to the point that a few people present actually started giggling. It was really bad & I actually felt embarrassed, so I spoke up.

Freaky Chakra: Eita ki oshobhotami korchen apnara? (What is this indecency?)

Eve-teaser#1: Beshi rongbaji dekhabi na... nijer kaaj kor (crudely translated - dont cross your line, & mind your own business)

FC: Rongbaji apnara dekhachen (You guys are crossing lines, not me)

ETs: Ki bolchis (what did u say?)

At this the two gentlemen walked upto me, shorter and frailer than them both & still in my school uniform. One of them shoved me, while the other caught my school tie & slapped me twice. Hard. The first made me see stars, the second left me dizzy. All the while they kept hurling the most dirty swear words ever designed by man, questioning everything from my family lineage to my mother & sister's modesty.

A crowd immediately gathered, like crowds always do. Nobody... said anything when they could've easily overpowered the two. Being a busy street, a cop soon came on the scene. He was one of those traffic constable guys. That I felt relieved to see him, would be a gross understatement. When he enquired what was going on... this is what the ETs told him - (translated into english for convinience)

"This kid here is looking for trouble (baawali korche)"

I protested trying to say that I was only trying to protect the girl being eve-teased pointing to the person questioned. She had been watching the whole scene with anxious concern so far. When the cop asked her... (believe it or not) this is what she said –

"I dont know anything. I was just waiting for the bus". No kidding bitch! Which part did you miss? Them plotting how to treat you worse than a common street whore, or me getting slapped & abused for trying to protest? Waiting for the bus - How convinient!

Amazingly, not one of the poeple in the crowd (there musta been about 20 poeple there) uttered a word, even though they all knew what had happened. The ETs started yelling and asked the cop to arrest me & shit. I was shit scared and started crying. Of course the cop knew what was going on & he wasnt gonna arrest me, but I was just plain hysteric.

Get a load of this... I had to actually APOLOGISE to those two, before being let-off with a "warning"!!!!!!


I was pretty badly shaken up after this, and it was atleast a few months after this that I came to peace with myself. I can sort of understand now why the girl did that, but even so I do not think I forgive her for doing so. And as for the others in the crowd, letting a school kid getting madhandled by a couple of goons... well, that is the reason why nobody ever stops from anyone from feeling up your daughters & sisters! That is the reason why there are no "superheroes"!!

Incident #2:

I felt that the 1st one was kind of depressing & negative, so I wanted to share another experience which ended on a more positive note

This happened fairly recently, after I had joined college. I was returning home in a bus one day. It was very crowded and there was this fairly young female standing near my seat. Just behind her stood a slightly tallish middle-aged man, evidently drunk and evidently falling a little too much her inspite of the crowded bus & its lurching movement. The girl gave him quite a number of intimidating, dirty looks and her share of "pich-pich" sounds, but this man was not fazed and kept on sort of dry humping her back every time the bus swerved a little.

I had had enough. I got up & offered my seat to the thankful female & positioned myself between the drunk & her. Instead of being discouraged he fell over me even more in an attempt to gain access to her. His drunk breath gave me further assurance, that in case of any trouble I could "handle" this person. Iam sure a lot of others felt the same because they too started giving him stares. Outnumbered, he sobered up for the moment.

When the girl got up to leave... he too made for the exit. Even though it was some 5-6 bus stops away from my home, I got down too so I could keep an eye on what happened. As soon as we got down, this guy moved forward and caught the girl by her hand. She raised an alarm. I got involved immediately as did a two others who had got down at the same stop.

Seeing that the ET was a) Drunk, and b) outnumbered... a few more people in the vicinity also joined in and soon there was a big crowd and it was open season for everyone. Blacken his face said someone, take him to the police said someone else.

But the girl in question just quickly dismissed the whole thing and hurriedly disappeared from the spot. Seeing that the victim was not interested in the ET, the crowd to let him off... & I was back where it all started.

What I could not understand why, inspite of having such a huge crowd backing her did that female not take the bastard to the police! Of course good girls from good families dont get involved in such a mess.

Overheard after the entire fracas:

"Basically they are all sluts, they enjoy all this... that is why they never do anything about it".

I couldnt help but wonder, if the guy was not drunk and alone, if I would've had the courage to be as upfront as I was. But what about these two females? They had been personally wronged. Why could they not speak up? Why could they not do something about it?

Why could they not do anything to be labelled as victims and not sluts?

- Action Hero Freaky Chakra

Original Post on http://the-freaky-chakra.blogspot.com

On Street Harrassment And The Like

When I committed myself to participating in Blank Noise’s blogathon, I really wasn’t sure what to say. I avoid overly personal posts on this blog; I don’t feel comfortable sharing that much in a public space. If you want a personal, eloquent post, Annie’s achieved it better than I could ever hope to here.The best I can do at the moment is a few random, unconnected thoughts on the subject.




I’ve always found the maa-behen argument against eve teasing rather insulting to both men and women. It’s effective, yes. But to me all it really indicates is that the only reason a man should not harass me is not that I am a person who deserves to be treated with respect, but because the thought of someone treating my harasser’s sister in the same way grosses him out. It’s all about the harasser and women are reduced to somebody else’s mothers and somebody else’s sisters, rather than real people, worthy of respect in their own right. It depresses me that this is the best we can hope for, this is the only argument that seems to work.




There’s a difference between a stare and a leer. Being stared at is a sort of compliment. Everyone wants to look good, and it’s gratifying to be noticed sometimes. A leer is not a look of admiration. It’s the establishment of a power equation (an equation which is concretised in actual, physical rape.). It does not say “I’m attracted to you”, its aim is to make the subject uncomfortable. It says “I’m going to look at you whether you like it or not, because I can. I know you’re uncomfortable, and you can’t do anything about it.” The problem is, both the stare and the leer come under the heading of “just looking”, which sounds completely harmless. You can’t legislate against just looking, people are free to look at whoever they like, and certainly their thoughts and motives cannot be regulated. But every woman who has experienced both types of looking knows the difference, and knows equally well that there is no way to explain that difference to someone who doesn’t face it every day.(I hate the argument that says “you’ve never been through XYZ so you can’t possibly understand” because it has such potential for misuse, but honestly what else can one say in a debate like this one?) And I hate the arguments that talk about how evil feminists want to be privileged, want to control men’s thoughts, want to be allowed more space than men are allowed, simply because they are women, want to ‘portray’ themselves as the weaker sex. I’m an (evil) feminist, and what I want is to be able to step out of my house without being constantly reminded of that power equation. And since no amount of legislation can do this for me, I’m left helpless.




It’s one of the clichés of Bollywood movie songs. The pretty girl walks down the street or onto the college campus, or any public space really. The hero sees and likes and bursts into song. The pretty girl is visibly embarrassed and tries to escape, but the hero mysteriously pops up everywhere. The viewer is (allowing for differences in character) either feeling sorry for the girl or cheering the hero on. But at the end of the song we learn there’s no need to feel sorry for her – she comes around, she’s flattered and pleased, this is what she wanted all along.

And I wonder how many of the men who burst into song on the roads really expect to get the girl, whether they believe that strange fantasy can actually come true for them. I can laugh off the singing because I can tell myself it’s harmless, or at least well intentioned.



I’m not supposed to travel alone at night. My dad’s paranoid, and so am I, I feel threatened when I travel alone. This means that I can either not go out or ask a male friend to drop me home. Not going out implies an acceptance of the situation (I am a woman and I cannot go out without men, I am to willingly accept that women should stay at home.) But I hate being dependent on my friends. Most of the time I’m with them I’m one of them, we watch sports, listen to music, do various other gender-neutral friend things. When it’s time to go home, we are suddenly reminded that they are boys and can go home alone and that I am a girl and need them. I need *special* treatment.

At the Jazz Utsav in November someone I knew in school (but not very well) had to take a massive detour on his way home just to drop me off safely. A close friend had to waste his time making sure I got home alive. Such things are at best hugely embarrassing, and terribly demoralising. I know my friends will keep me safe. I hate that they have to. Sometimes I'd kill to be one of the guys.

- Action Hero Kaleidoglide

Original post on http://bluelullaby.blogspot.com

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

Original post on http://mintchutney.blogspot.com


Does Eve Teasing Really Exist?

Hi all how's everone doing?I found this site just yesterday and was trully horrified to hear such real bad experiences of teasing not only in New Delhi but all over India truly i didnt expect that such thing really exists or else it is such a big issue but after reading the posts of fellow bloggers i was moved and would like to know that are these stories by fellow members really true please do not misunderstand me i am just amazed to hear such stories of horror and also please let me know if any one has any sugesstions on how this menace could be controlled though i have taken a grass root level approch to root out this social menace that is by telling all my group of friends not to get involved into eveteasing.Though i am also keeping and eye over them while we are together that they dont do any indescent thing hope you understand the main purpose of doing this is that if some people get civilised then they can go on to civilise many more people so please let me know what all do you think will wait eagerly for your replies though i am new to blogs so do help me in achiving sucess.signing off Nishant Bahal.

- Action Hero New Delhi Speaks

Original post on http://newdelhispeaks.blogspot.com

Benefit Of Doubt - Not Anymore…

Will the male groping ever stop?? I don't think so...

I still get a pain in the pits of my stomach when I think about how my best friend was groped in a very busy railway station back in school days or when my classmate from college was man-handled in a supposed-to-be-hip Shopping Mall or how scared we used to be (we still are) in any crowded place with lewd looks and lurking men.

I think I am a little ashamed of what had happened - not that it was in any way our fault or that we could have stopped it in anyway, but I feel that I could have atleast spoken up instead of shying and hurrying away from that place/person. But how much could I have done then?

I am a little too pulsed up now to write everything in an orderly fashion. So, I am just jolting it all down:

1) I think I was about 12-13 years old. My friends and I used to bicycle to school everyday. There used to be this street corner on our way, where irrespective of time of the day or day of the week, a gang of thugs used to be sitting on the compound wall of some house (like sea erne eagerly waiting for timely prey). Everything was going good until one day my friend had to come to school alone (we had left for school earlier) and the lurker-guys had stopped her, started pulling her skirt, etc... She came to class in tears and the result - the school management changed our uniforms from skirt-shirt to chudidhars. We were shell-shocked. Did no one ever question them or will no one ever stop them. What did our parents do - asked us to change the route to school.

2) The next incident was in a crowded Madras railway station, when I was in senior secondary school. The metro trains were not that crowded that day. We must have seen that as a stopping sign. We got in the 'ladies compartment' thinking we were going to be safe!! My parents always used to chauffeur me everywhere. So, the idea of going in a train with just my friends was too good to resist. So, anyways, people started getting in and out... By the time, we reached Egmore, it was packed. Then, we got down and the station was jam-packed = excellent ambiance for gropy lurkers. Don't ask me what or what did not happen then. Last time I went in trains with just my (girl)friends and without an escort.

Now, I am just too depressed to pen more.

When I was growing up, I sometimes used to think when I traveled by bus or train that it was just my imagination or over-cautiousness that led me to be suspicious of the others traveling. So, even if some ogling or leering or lewd-remarking did happen, I used to give them the benefit of doubt and not worry about it very much or just ignore it.

What is it with the male society that makes them do this - is it just the absence and presence of something biological? Has there ever been a woman/girl who didn't have to go through this in her lifetime? For a long time, I used to wonder if it happened just to some girls......No, I realize its a 30-40 year time-span process for all women.....

I do know that not all men are like this. Men I am friends with, I work with, I have known since school and college days - I can quote a whole bunch of them, (atleast within my sphere of my knowledge) - who have been good to me. So, what is it with the rest of the man world?

Someday, sometime, somewhere we have to confront them. If its not today, then tomorrow we have to stop giving benefit of doubt and actually say something. Are they going to change? Probably not.... But better do it now, than never! STOP GIVING THE LURKERS THE BENEFIT OF DOUBT!

- Action Hero Taruna

Original post on http://tantalizingtaruna.blogspot.com

Take A Vow

As I sit down to write for the blank noise blog-athon, I wonder where I could begin. Should I start chronologically from the age of 7, when a man servant felt me up in places I can still not get myself to write down? Or should I go ahead to the age of 14 when a guy rubbed himself into me in a not so crowded bus in Nepal, all this when my parents and sister were in the same bus, but I didn't dare to move, for the sad reason that at that age, I didn't know how have the guts to react in that kind of a situation. Or should I just jump past all those daily experiences of men feeling me up, pushing themselves into me in public transport, or staring at me or winking at me or passing lewd remarks or pinching my butt or singing songs or throwing balloons at me every damned holi or autodrivers offering me "lifts, jahan bhee jaana ho" or cars stopping by when I am walking alone on a main busy road, following me for some time, assuming that I am on sale or "boys" aiming small paper pellets at my butt or men hitting my butt by driving too close to me while I am walking my dog or guys speeding on a bike hitting my chest so hard that I almost fall with the sheer force (apart from the shock)... I am out of breath already and this sentence doesnt even seem to be anywhere near ending. Maybe I should just land up at the incident which happened at some new year party when I was 16 and at that age, like everyone else I had the humble desire a young girl would have - that of being asked for a dance (not even a ballroom dance, just a jam session). Little did I know that the request for a dance was a pretext for masturbation in a public place with the guy trying to make me fondle his dick. By that age, I was thankfully not so ill-equipped in terms of presence of mind (had enormous experience of such incidents by now) and I shoved him away with all my might. But till this date, only one person on this planet knew about it and she actually thought that I had imagined it all, since guys in those social circles are supposed to be "decent". Nothing really "harmful" (this term is so damn subjective) happened then. I tried dealing with that incident in an adult manner (in my mind i.e.) so that my self esteem didnt get hit ("did I really look the cheap variety or did I look the "unable to do anything variety" to attract the wrong guys" kind of doubts).

There are ways and means to tackle that colleague who talks to your breasts or that elderly relative who pretends to be fawning over you but is actually lusting (you can always tell). Of course, one needs to weigh ones options and actions a little bit keeping in mind all odds. One does not go ahead and take pangas with a gang when one is alone. But one can definitely be alert and quick (not just physically but mentally as well).

There has happened a particular incident of ballooning where the guy made the mistake of being visible while throwing the balloon. He happened to work at a local barber shop, which I immediately stormed into and gave him a piece of my mind and some of the choicest abuses I knew. A guy there (a client) egged me on to give him a tight slap as well. I quietly ignored him since I didnt want the situation to get so heated up and that guy seemed to be egging me on just for kicks. I cant say that what I did, would have made the ballooning guy stop it for his life. But it's always best to bring the "situation" into notice. The fear of embarassment is enough for some to at least think twice about it next time. There was another guy who tried brushing past me on a main road while I was waiting to cross it. The whole damn road was empty, but he thought that he would have a piece of my butt before I reached the other side. That guy was unaware that he was going to get the shock of his life. Though I felt like killing him, I merely held his collar with both hands and shook him so badly that he didnt know what hit him. He tried running for his life, but he couldnt. I was surprised with my own grip. Eventually he managed to pull off and ran for his life. It was only when everything was over and done with, that the "crowd" asked me what happened and if he was trying to snatch my purse.

There are umpteen such situations in everyday life and they would perhaps never end. Not only is it difficult to try and give such sick men their due, it is very much a difficult thing when you are left in a doubt about the intention of someone. At times things happen accidentally and unintentionally too. But at most times they are obvious enough to be brought to public notice. Even if the "crowd" does not react (and only watches) one should definitely make sure that one does not ignore it. In public transport one can always request ppl politely to stop pushing or plainly to stand a little away. The way one does it makes sure that even the ones who did it accidentally arent offended by your request and the ones doing it intentionally can not just go scot free. When it happens repeatedly in spite of polite requests, it's time to stomp that high heel onto his foot or to shove ones elbow into his balls.

The best way to actually try and reduce something like this is to spread awareness amongst women that they can actually protest against it. I have grown up watching things happen to me and around me and even though I knew it was wrong I didnt know what to do about it (till some point in my life). One needs to ignore minor happenings but one also needs to make sure that the ones which can be avoided, are. Things can get as ugly as molestation of ones own children or marital rape. There is no dearth of the levels till which harassment can go. Be aware, be prepared, be alert and be proud to be a woman inspite of the shit that happens

- Action Hero Twilight Fairy

Original post on http://twilightfairy.rediffblogs.com

Romeo and Eve on Blank Noise

Blank Noise has the blog-a-thon 2006 going, inviting stories and thoughts from people about the problem of street harassment. People, because men need to speak out on this as much as women do.

I was waiting to attend the Blank Noise meet in Bombay before I posted on this. Some thoughts from there. The idea behind Blank Noise is to raise awareness among people that we need to Say NO to street harrassment, it is not okay to harass or be harassed, even in the name of fun. It is not okay to encroach upon a woman’s personal space, in the name of checking her out or appreciating beauty. No, it is not okay when the woman feels uncomfortable by this.

So what is harassment? And what is not?

So where do we draw the line and say this is okay and this is not? Start with looking at the innocuous name given to such harassment in India - eve teasing. Uh? teasing? The unemployed Rmeo whistles at the girl, sings lewd songs at her, and in the next scene fades out with the girl and the guy singing lewd songs tgether, declaring their undying love for each other? Nope, Eve and Romeo… doesn’t work that way.

One of the things Blank Noise wants to do first is to understand exactly what constitutes harassment. Please leave your thoughts on this here and spread the word around. Eve teasing to me means blank

Activism is such a dirty word?

It is alright to write about it but getting down to the streets where the harassment actually takes place is not so easy for everyone. You do not have to stand in the streets and ask people questions and hand out pamphlets. be your own activist - when you see a woman get harassed, take some action. Show your support in some way. And if you want to be involved in blank noise, please get in touch with Jasmeen right away.

But what can I do about it?

I agree often there isn’t much you can do about it - in a crowded space, it is sometimes difficult to even tell who pinched or groped. But when you do know, then make a scene. Ask him ‘why are you staring a me’? I have tried this and it works. It sends the “teaser” into a tizzy. Shout if in a public place and get the attention of others.

And if you feel physically feel violated in any way, first get this clear - you are not responsible for it. It is not about the way you smile or the clothes you are wearing - it is about the fact that you are a woman and you happen to be there. I don’t know if this is supposed to make one feel better or worse, it is not about you - it could have been any woman there and then.

All that I have written, I have faced, and thought about.

And the stories….

As Annie said, karoge yaad toh har baat yaad aayegi. It just needs one person to start talking about it and then suddenly every woman has her own story to share.

After all these years, I still get disturbed when I think about this - and I do often. Twelve years old and in a crowded temple on a festival way. And a man squeezed my breasts from behind. hard, so hard that I shouted out. But I had nothing to say when my aunt asked me what had happened. And I saw the man. I saw him again and again. I saw the leer on his face. And I saw him come towards me a second time, and it happened a second time. And I saw him walk away. And I came home and cried unconsolably.

I am shaking with anger as I write this. What breasts does a twelve year old have, you bastard? I have noticed that I still instinctively cover my chest if I sense a stranger come too close to me, and if I am not wearing a dupatta. And I have not mentioned this to anyone in my life till now.

Walking to class at 16. Passing through a house where four teengae boys sang dirty songs every single day. Till I snapped one day. That night, they came to my house drunk and made a scene infrnt of the gate. Neighbors watching in avid curiosity, and supportive parents who threatened to cal the police. The next morning, my dad and I went to the house; the boy’s father as a well known physiotherapist, and compalined about him. The boy’s mother advised my dad to keep his girl under control. They did not sing from the next day, but I didn’t feel good about that “victory”…

And then driving classes at 19. And the scent of the male instructor as he leaned over my neck teaching me to reverse the car. That nauseous smell of coconut oil, mixed with sweat and what, lust? I snapped at him after three days and demanded a woman instructor. And he failed me in my preliminary driving test before going to the RTO. I don’t drive to this day.

Related : my earlier post on Being a female body

Action Hero Charukesi


I Never Ask For It.

It was always a feeling of shame. Shame that when 14, a passing cyclist grabbed me. Shame that in the school bus, the driver always fiddled with the rearview mirror so he could look at my chest. Shame that men leered with smug smiles when I walked past. Or tried to brush up against me. Shame because I felt it happened only to me and only because there was something wrong with the way I looked or dressed or walked or talked or was. Something wrong - terribly, terribly so - with me.

And the only reaction seemed to be silence. Because confrontation might lead to attention being drawn to a dirty experience I wanted to keep secret. Because speaking out meant acknowledging that something was wrong when I could cloak it.

I don't know exactly when silence turned into anger into indignation and then confrontation. Perhaps when I was forced out of my cocooned world of being accompanied and driven around into the rush of public transport, government offices, the streets and the slums. Perhaps when a man pushed his crotch against my back in a crowded bus. Perhaps when I saw that most women sat with their bags held tight against their chests in autos. Or, perhaps when I learnt that a friend, too, was grabbed.

Now, the shame is gone but the scabs remain. I don't pick at them because there is no point. What I can do now is know that I never ask for it. That no woman does. That my body is my space and when you lech or whistle or grope or leer or ogle or grab, you abuse it. And that it's not okay.

So what it takes now is one question - Why are you looking at me?

Action Hero Chinmayee Manjunath


Updated: Blog-a-thon 2006: Tainted?

Papa called her bahadur beta. Mummy called her sher.

But when she stepped out, where did her Mummy's sher beta run off to? For she no longer felt like she was brave.

How could she? They never let her- no, not since she had started to grow up.

Intelligent,sensitive,shy,- read her report cards. But when she walked past them she felt like the figures in her Biology textbook.

She felt she was the girl in those pictures. Naked. Exposed. Her privates labelled out with large arrows so no one would miss them.

Nothing else was brought into focus. No one labelled her smile as sweet. Or her eyes as twinkles in the amavas night. Or how her broad forehead certainly betrayed her quiet intelligence. They didn't want to know what she liked. Who she was. They didn't even want to know her name.

She was nameless, just a pair of breasts and ass and that was enough for them.Clearly labelled for all to see. By Them.

Like the girl in those pictures. Ch-13- Reproductive System.

She showered each day, twice, like good Brahmin children. She still felt filthy.

Their roving eyes cast black over body. No not like soot, which came off with a slight wipe off a wet finger. Like artificial colours of Holi, unnatural, impure- clinging to the skin , that a few hard scrubs couldn't take off.

Neither could Lux nor Dove. Nor Nirma nor Surf.

Industrial detergents only burnt that offensive skin. But it would grow back, fresh for countless coats of humiliation brushed on with fervour by those who unclothed her daily.

Their glances suffocated her in a sea of black ink- like the voter's dot on the index finger, hard to see and hard to clean.

Surely Eve must have lived even if Mummy had said no. She thought she must have, for she was Eve every day. Impure, unclean.Damned until her flesh withered away.

So she removed herself from that body. The body that brings in so much pain, humiliation and shame. The body that was brushed by 'accidently'. That was felt on crowded buses. That was smacked in throngs of people in the bazaar.

"No this body can't be mine", she thought, "Which is unclothed by their eyes everytime I pass by. Unclothed against my will. Unclothed when I thought these layers, metres of cloth, without form or attraction, could hide this body of mine. This body that becomes part of public, to be seen, felt, used to suit whosoever wishes to. Will this body ever be only mine?"

She was Papa's bahadur beta and Mumma's sher.

But if she was brave, then why did she die everytime they saw her?

But if she was a sher, why did she feel hunted,why was she the prey?

Men are individuals with free will. Excercise it- control your actions.

A woman's body is hers and only hers alone- not one to be treated as part of public property.

Street harassment is a crime.

Stop street harassment of girls and women.

Update: While I avoided writing a personal account /testimony of street harassment, for those memories come with their share of pain, humiliation and helplessness, Annie didn't and I think those who questioned the 'purpose' of this blog-a-thon might want to read it.

If nothing else you'd see how women are made to depend on men, why we cannot be alone, why we need separate lines and compartments. And if nothing else, you can remind yourself to not brush away our pain, our humiliation. To not brush us off as weak.

Lastly, I'd like to add, this isn't restricted to India. I experienced it first-hand in the Middle East.

Afterall, geography doesn't limit a man's ability to be an asshole.

Action Hero Deepali


Eve teasing. What we CAN do about it.

Every city in this country has its horror stories: The recent rape of a college girl in Mumbai by a city policeman in broad daylight on Marine Drive; Seema Shah’s death in Chennai at the hands of a bunch of eve teasers in an auto; well chronicled and endless outrages in Delhi, including a girl at a bus stop dragged by her hair for a distance by a motor bike riding eve teaser because she wouldn’t respond to his dumb comments.

What is it with our society that encourages ‘eve teasers’? To begin, with the place of women in society. Where a large section of the population considers them ‘inferior' to men. Its not just a socio-cultural phenomenon, but goes deeper into how women have been exploited to ‘keep them in their place’. Then it’s the unnatural segregation of the sexes in many cities in schools, colleges and even social functions. So that boys and girls don’t know how to interact naturally with each other. And worse, have no decent opportunity to do so.

Most of all, it’s the lack of proper values instilled in families in their children about respecting the sexes as equal. But then, if the social fabric is flawed with regard to the sexes, what can you expect? Especially when you have middle class ‘respectable’ fathers who become groping octopuses on Delhi buses. Which brings us back to the question, if the problem is so large, what can we do about it? Why do so many women suffer the indignity & ignominy of eve teasing in our cities?

It’s because no one around them rises to their aid. It’s ridiculous but true. Eve teasers know that what they are doing is not acceptable. They have wives, daughters, sisters and cousins like anyone else. You think they’d do the same to them? No way! They’d kill anybody who tried. Yet, because nobody around them comes to the help of the victim, they continue to prey on them. Take the recent case of a plucky Chennai girl who dared to retort to an eve teaser with a group of boys harassing her at a popular Chennai theatre.

She verbally put him in his place. Incensed (I suppose his ‘manhood’ was affronted), the eve teaser attacked her. He slapped her first, then punched her a few times in the stomach. What did the other movie goers at the theatre do? (Mind you, the place was packed). Nothing. Everyone discreetly looked the other way. Why would not eve teasers continue to do what they want then? After all, society doesn’t protest. And by virtue of this silence, gives them leave and license to continue to do what they do.

Come on, people of India. Stop clucking about how bad it is. Get a backbone, and next time you see something that’s not acceptable, step right up and confront the eve teaser. Since they already know what they’re doing is not acceptable, they will back down. Not if the victim protests, because it’s a power thing with a victim, but if others around raise their voices in protest. I know, I’ve done it many times. You don’t even have to speak. Sometimes all you have to do is walk in between the eve teaser and the victim, and give him a forbidding stare.

Let me share something with you. When I was in the first year in college, I had to take a long bus ride to get there. The bus passed the Holy Angels Convent girls school in Chennai. Many of the school’s students used to be on the bus. So were a horde of young men who felt they were fair game. They used to move through the bus to try and position themselves next to one of these pretty, innocent young things so they could get up against them for cheap thrills. I would move in such a way that I would get between them and the girls so they couldn’t reach them.

If they tried pushing past, I’d shove them right back with a steely stare. Over a period of time, the girls sensed what was going on. And if they saw me on the bus, they ensured that they were close to where I was so that they felt protected. None of those eve teasers, and there were many of them over time, dared do anything when they saw there was some one to watch out for these girls. I never spoke to any of the girls, but they understood and appreciated what I was doing. They would look at me and smile their thanks as they got off the bus at the Holy Angels stop. That’s all the thanks I needed. After all, they could’ve been my kid sisters. (I never had one).

Is that so hard to do? Think about it. And the next time you see some one teasing a girl, speak up, or get between the teaser and the teased and put a stop to it. I would. I would even go so far as to clout the guy if he deserved it. Like the one who punched the girl at the cinema. Believe me, the rest of the crowd would rally around. So let’s take on the eve teasers in the world around us. Rather than just bemoan what’s going on. For the answer lies with you. And me.

Action Hero David Appasamy


Blank Noise Project - ... the actual post

Allow me to start from the end...

Apologies for the philosophical sidenote, I hate transposing reality into the academic realm... It makes everything too detached, too convenient and ready for dissection... But a number of events in my life have made me appreciate those white, old/dead, Eastern European male writers A LOT. Damit, they were right when they wrote about that duality between existence as a subjct and an object. The border between the two clings to us all like clothing, and shines like an ill aura when a woman walks down any public space. To you I am an object, viewed from the clothing outward. Voiceless, mindless... And I must say that as hard as I have tried - the louder I scream and flail my arms... I just become a very animated object, the subject behind it as invisible to you as the real body I guard under the clothing that separates you from me. An approppriate dose of stubborn dehumanisation makes anything acceptable, doesn't it?

At the age of 12, anything new feels good if it’s introduced gently. As you, girl, proudly begin to witness the appearance of the curves you’ve so been waiting for, it’s nice to know others are taking notice. Recall how many vacuous moments were filled laying your eyes upon the changing shadows of the flowing fabrics passing you by, recall the many ways you wondered if your shirts would someday crease in that fashion, the hem of your skirt bounce to that rhythm. Knowing that others could possibly look to you with such wonder in their eyes… it made you walk a little taller, each step a little more accented so as to lend grace to your newly-rounded angles.

And then the eyes stopped being silent and as you grew the words they sent your way grew up too. Into more ‘adult’ words, to suit the thoughts your now-adult body made legitimate; taking advantage of the license it gave them. You let your body talk that way – let me answer with the words it’s been asking me for.

Screw the childhood, forget about any illusions of gentle appreciative stares, you’re almost thirteen now. Welcome to the real world.

In the mall my booty was ghetto and appreciated in packs – at times I had trouble distinguishing what scores they were referring to because I knew their jerseys had won the night before. Throughout Europe I was worth a whistle, in Cuba a click accompanied by sustained eye contact. I averted my eyes and turned back once at a safe distance – the eyes would still be looking, stray dogs gathering around them hoping food was the reward for answering the call.

On Guy or Crescent they were Arabic and Greek and Italian words I wish I didn’t know, and whispered promises in passing - I will… I could… You make me…

In Morocco the echo of a compliment resonated through a souk – Why thank you, I DO find my pussy quite sexy, I’m happy the feeling is mutual. When the group of people I had met at the conference that had brought me in the Maghreb came together for dinner that evening - a bunch of young women and men from around the globe - we couldn't help but compete over our day's experiences of street harassement, laughing about getting our breasts and behinds groaped. We - the girls - shrugged our shoulders and blamed culture shock, while the boys sat in shock and dismay at our ease with letting it all slide. Culture shock, really? You're going to let them because they're different? Yes, yes I will because I refuse to believe it has anything to do with ME, it has to do with what they see when they look my way.

In the Village they came in the early morning, when the butches were recruiting and the fags were touchy – I think it had something to do with insecurity and power. Or blood-alcohol content. Or something. Because there was always an obvious attempt at courage in their voice – in all their voices, their whistles, their clicks. It’s not because I want you, it’s because I can. I can make you react, know your place, remind you of mine. Over and over and over again.

In Japan it’s a polite side glance accompanied by a sneer, alternating between myself and the manga on his knees. I cannot help but wonder if I become the girl on the page – the look towards either being equally empty, the assessment quickly consumed and disposed of. I haven't had a run-in with those famed chikan yet. Count yourself lucky.

In the Philippines my sister and I were always accompanied – by my father, my cousins, a ten-year-old acquaintance – anything with the proverbial balls we physically lack. It was my father’s first encounter with emasculation, as he cannot help but feel what my sister and I feel… The men directing their thoughts about us towards him did not help him in his attempt to ignore the stares that weighed on our pale shoulders.

You shouldn’t keep such beauty all to yourself, sir.

He wanted to puke.

You’re a lucky man, walking with such gorgeous things. Are you their father? Why, you’re an artist, sir.

I was used to it by that point, ten years had passed since I turned 12. But my heart broke when I saw his shoulders hunch a little lower and his eyes lose a little more pride with each fleeting comment. I knew what he wanted to answer…

Yes, I’m responsible for the entire shell, but you should see how I helped them decorate the interior – doesn’t that matter too?

I have walked alongside boys and men who have gotten angrier than I have at the knowledge of what populates my daily walks. Once at our destination, safely sheltered from their glances and their sounds, these boys and men ask me how and why I take it, why I don’t answer back.

All I can offer them is ‘What am I supposed to do? Stop and school each one?’

Frankly, I simply take comfort in knowing that while they’re standing, sitting, or taking their time wandering the same city block waiting for myself and women like me to pass by… we’re actually steady going places with a mind uncluttered by the delivery of the next inconsequential one-liner.

Read others' thoughts on the topic of street harassment and eve-teasing for their links on the BlankNoiseProject blog.

Action Hero dancing chaos


...blank noise...

I have written this for the BLANK NOISE PROJECT

Grit your teeth. Look busy. Pretend to talk on the phone. Frown. Look into the distance as though you cant really register your surroundings (and yet you have never been more aware of them). This is pretty much the best way to deal with the sly calls, the whistles, the cars slowing down. The scooters that stop uncomfortably close to where you are standing on the road.

But if the threat grows, if your space is invaded to a point where you cant breathe - pick up a rock. It has worked for me for many years… because they mostly don’t want their faces smashed. Or their cars spoiled. Or their helmets damaged. And of course... last but not the least - resort to actual physical violence when you cant take it at all...

I have to admit that the choking "after" feeling is something that I have not managed to work on. I still get chokey. I still clench my fists. I still get hot tears behind my eyes. And none of it is my fault. The feeling of helplessness is often mindnumbing. The anger is too much to take. There is no outlet. Then sometimes it explodes.

A few years ago, I was on a shoot. In Old Delhi. Need I mention - covered from head to toe. There was nothing even remotely sexy / alluring / attractive about me. I was running after my cameraman through the narrow lanes and suddenly I felt my butt being grabbed. Not too hard. But more than just a brush. I stopped running. I stopped breathing. There was a buzzing in my ear. I turned around and there was a man walking away from me to a tea stall. I calmly followed him and with the edge of the two beta tapes in my hand started hitting him between his shoulder blades (anyone who has had training from older brothers knows that this is a sensitive spot). I couldn’t stop till my cameraman came from the back and held my hands and told me to calm down and get away from there. A crowd had gathered. Not for me. For him. He was asking me over and over again, “What did I do? What did I do?” I couldn’t speak. Words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. You touched me. Just now. Then yesterday and the day before that and last year. And when I was in school. when I was at the market.... you violated my space. My dignity. You made me feel dirty. Cheap. Low. So, so helpless.

Was it wrong of me to take out my frustration on him for all the other times as well? I dont know. Did the hitting make me feel good? I am not sure. ‘Cause it was not enough. It was not enough ‘cause it did not leave me with the strength to do it again. And again. And again.

Being on edge all the time can be tiring. But then that is what you need. To survive. Because you are a woman.

Action Hero D


A Few Faint Scars

Thanks to this initiative, this post is about eve-teasing. There have been times when I did wonder whether I would be able to address this issue with as much clarity as it is happening around. I hope that this is a right step taken in this direction....

I was familiar with eve-teasing – and every time I used to ignore the sly whispers or the raucous shouts. Unke koi maa behen hoti nahin hain kya - I stopped wondering about that long back when I realised that for some men, women are nothing more than mere ojbects - that too of the use-and-throw variety.I gyuess it is just a mode of sadistic pleasure for them. "Why should I react?" - was my mode of reasoning! But then, it had not yet taken a turn for worse......

AA and I were in the habit of talking long walks in the evening – something which I miss at times (especially the company). Recalling this incident, I can place the time to somewhere around 7:00 at a deserted road in our area. AA and I were walking along this road in deep discussion about some subject when I noticed a lone cyclist cycling leisurely towards us.

I would not have paid him much attention except for the fact that he brushed a bit too close for our comfort. I yelled back at him. To our shock, he wheeled back and came right at us. Before I could even regret what I had done, he pulled my plait hard (enough to bring tears to my eyes) and vanished. AD and I were too stunned to react. Here we were – two young girls – totally helpless and at a loss as to what to do next. Nothing had prepared us for this eventuality.
Needless to say, we seldom frequented that particular stretch after this incident.

Even after so many years, I still remember the sense of guilt - it was my reaction which involved AA in this mess right - and the sense of loathing - how could I allow this to happen?

But there are times, while walking across this stretch, that I wonder – what if I had remained silent, what if he had done something more than just pulling my hair? Would I have remained a mute spectator to the events? Where should I draw the line? And at whose risk?

Never (again) would I pray for a repeat just to seek these answers......

But still some questions remain - react to, respond to or ignore eve-teasing?

Action Hero Chitra


I am...

I am a woman

“no ur not…ur justa girl”

“ur a girl..behave like one”

“gosh u look like a boy”

I have a face

“ur so cute”

“colgate smile”

“ewww..metal mouth!”

“nice nose”

“u have a funny nose”

“your skull has a weird shape”

“nice thick hair”

“madam your hair needs to be smoothened. You could also try L’Oreal’s latest hair colour”

I have a body

“hey miss matchstick”

“nice ass”

“did he say ‘nice ass’ to you…hahaha…where is it..show me!!!”

“he grabbed your ass???? On the streets! Wtf!”

“girl…men wont give a damn unless you have big boobs!”

“snigger snigger..so are u anorexic?..snigger snigger”

"wow..you look like a french model!”

I wear clothes

“ur skinny, u can pull anything off.”

“please don’t ever wear a sari till you put on some weight!”

“oh my god..that cb bitch…what kinda clothes does she wear?”

"wow...nice clothes!"

“if u wear t-shirts like that..you will attract unwanted attention. So stop making a big deal

about harassment in the workplace”

“u look so sweet in shorts..wish I had the guts to wear them!”

“what, you left your dupatta at home?”

I hate dupattas…they are potential killers

“yeah u say that cos u aint graceful enuff to carry it off”

“they are lajja vastras..don't you know??”

I hate duppattas even more….


I believe in God

“U cannot go to the temple if you have your periods”

“Navarathri is a celebration of shakti…of the ardhanareshwari”

“how can they emulate Krishna..such a flirt!”

“that they made Sita do an agneepareeksha..”

“Sita needed the lakshman Rekha to stay within her limits”

God has created me - a beautiful wonderful woman

“hey ugly”

“she called you ugly? Don’t feel bad…have u not heard the story of the ugly duckling?”

“hey beautiful”

“pretty boy!”

“you are beautiful…and I love you”

“hi sexy”

“I used to think ur pretty, now I only see you as someone really smart."



“happy puppy”


I am….what I am…

As for what you say, I really don't give a damn!

I am me, constant self

I am me, ever changing self.
This article was composed for the blank noise blogathon, but please note that only certain parts of it deal with harassment. Its more about being a woman, reflecting on womanhood, the good times, the bad times, the uncomfortable times, the soft, the sweet, the rough…. but more importantly, it's a celebration of womanhood, to take in the smirks and the smiles, the punches and the caresses, the colours and contrasts, and continue to love every single moment of being a woman.

Happy Women’s day!

Action Hero Chitra



Is there any girl who lives who has not been harassed on the roads? I think not.Probably the first time ( which I am not ashamed to recount) I was harassed was when I was eleven years old. I can still recollect that day when an old man in a motorbike stopped me in the middle of the road, when I was walking back from school in the pretext of asking me for directions. No sooner had I given him directions ( not a word of which he heard), he told me," Don't you think you are too young to have breasts?" gesticulating towards mine. I was horrified.Before I could even scream out "Bastard" he had sped away. I remember going home that day, falling on my bed and crying all evening.I didn't have the courage to talk to anyone about it. For an entire week all I could think about was that horrid old man.You know what the worst part of being harassed when you are too young is ?

You are not indignant.

You are not outraged.

Instead, you feel ashamed.

Humiliated and ashamed of YOURSELF.

Like as if the sin was commited by the sinned not the sinner. It's like the attitude that some people carry towards rape. "She asked for it!".An oft heard remark.By the stupid narrow minded jerks in the world!

It was a couple of months later that my humiliation turned to outrage when a group of us girls gathered together and started speaking about it.The tales I heard were horrifying. We were all just eleven then and I guess the age where men know us to be vulnerable, innocent and unprotected. Too young for parents to worry about and too old to be protected by childish innocence.

One of my friends had been told to come to the back of a grocery shop to pick up what she had come for and when she went in, the grocer caught hold of her and started rubbing his hands up and down her chest.She had to bite him hard on his hand to escape and run away.I was onced offered a choclate by a shopkeeper if I came into his shop and saw the pictures he had.They were all pornographic and he did the same 'pinch on the chest trick'. Luckily there were four or five of us girls then.I wonder what would have happened if I had been alone? Another friend of mine had been stopped by a guy driving a car, again in the pretext of asking for directions. It was worse this time around.The guy had unzipped his pants and had semen coated on his hands and asked her " Do you know what this is? Shall I tell you what it is?".She cycled away as fast as she could from there.Another time when the same friend and me were skating in a skating rink at six in the morning alone, an old guy blocked our exit and removed his dhoti and started waving his penis at us.

Do you know what the one thing we all shared in common when we recounted these incidents was? We all of us blamed ourselves. Believed that the cardinal sin was comitted by us and not the perpetuator.Tell me one thing. Is it for this reason that children are targeted so much by these lechers? Because they know that we don't know how to react?

Pouring our hearts out was the best thing we ever did. I think we grew up overnight. Became wary and cynical.More watchful and distrustful of what every stranger said or did. Where previously we would smile winnningly at the stranger who patted our heads and butts, started to shie away and have that 'keep your distance' look in our eyes.Good. It atleast stopped us hurting.Kids do need to grow into adults.But incidents like this just help in hastening the transition.

The next year I joined Karate classes.Trained to defend myself.It helped that my Karate Sirs included kicks in the groin as a part of our lessons.They especially taught us girls how to defend ourselves and how to be watchful. It did help me.A couple of years later when a guy on a road reached out his hand to grab my breasts ( What is this obsession that guys have with breasts????? Is it that you don't have them??) ,I judged his intentions and knocked his hands off before he could succeed and walked away( I am yet to sum up the courage to walk THEM to the police station).Another time when my friend and I were going doubles on a very lonely stretch of road called Besant avenue, late in the evening, a guy in another cycle stopped us in the pretext of asking for directions. ( Is this the most successful approach till date??).When I pointed out the way he needed to go, he suddenly grabbed hold of my top. Before he could take two breaths I had punched him on his face ( I was still on the cycle) , opened my fingers and scored my nails down his face ( I bet it hurt like mad).My friend with equal presence of mind kicked his cycle and he toppled down. Before he got up we fled away. We didn't want to take the chances of him having any friends nearby. All this when we were fourteen.

These days a guy who flicks our hair and whistles saying," What is the reason for your beautiful hair?' , gets retorts of "Sabeena or Ujala". A guy who accidently pats you on the butt gets an equally accidental knock on his head by a wayward elbow or even better, an umbrella. The guys who look you up and down get look-ups and downs themselves. But that too is just by a select few girls. Most still cringe in fear.The girls who are yet to learn to defend themselves. And what about those incidents where you cannot defend yourself?Reminds of ( read my post 'A scary experience', when an auto driver asked me "Aren't you scared of going alone in the night?" during a late night trip. I replied "No. I know Karate". To which he says " What if there are six or seven men? Then what will you do,huh?". I was paralysed with fear then.

But really? What could even the braver ones do? Sit back, be raped and say "Thank you" ?

p.s. I hope the girls who read this post of mine gain the courage to be brave themselves and know they are not alone. I hope the guys who read this know to not just never harass but also spread the message and get the same attitude grilled into their friends.And I hope that everyone who reads it understands that even young children are susceptible to being harassed and get easily traumatised by it.So keep an eye on them for such signs of withdrawal and educate them when they are still very young about what they need to watch out for.

I would like to thank BlankNoise for the opportunity to represent myself in this blog-a-thon in a topic so close to my heart.

p.p.s I made the collage above as a true representation of what I felt.

Action Hero Deepti Ravi


His friend made the headline.

Recovered from discarded old diaries found in a trunk, for Blank Noise blog-a-thon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2003

What do you say when your best friend becomes a newspaper headline on a morning?


Now, that he looked back, he saw her standing outside the house with slit wrists. “I screwed up again”, she said. His first reaction was shock. He couldn't open the latch. A further spurt of blood from her wrists shook him out though.

His mind was racing around slasher movies and Discovery channel medical programs. The cuts were more wide than deep and blood was gasping out of her right one. He held her hand close to the wrist, trying desperately to stop the flow. Somehow, they managed to reach the fridge. Ice. After ten minutes of ice and pressure, the blood stopped.

Questions would come later. He had to cry first. They cried together.


Today, he would rather that she would come to him with slashed wrists. He was 2000 miles away. And she had turned into a newspaper headline.

'____ girl raped in a moving car'.

In the morning, he had read through the pages on the website without a break. As always, once he had finished with the sports and the comics, he had but 2 minutes to look at news about his city. Crimes against women was, but, a regular feature. On an average, five every day. On good days, maybe two. Not that he didn't care. He would do something, if only he could have. But what could he?

Then at 4, the call came. "____ has been raped again." "Again?". "Yes. In the middle of the day".

His mind wasn't racing through anything at the moment. In fact, it had managed to cocoon itself completely within the narrow confines of the phone booth. He had to something. He wished he could hold her hand close to her wrist. Or something.

Once back in his room, he checked indiatimes. Which had NSUI and ABVP protesting at the 'failure of the system'. Police had made an assurance that the culprits will be found. There was an entire opinion piece on tinted glasses on car windows. He also found that she was in the hospital and cooperating with the investigation.

This wasn't the first time. She was undergoing counselling for the previous time. He had met the counsellor once. She had asked him to.

"Think of a dustbin. We keep on filling it with garbage through the day. Whenever it stinks, we close it with a lid. Then we open it and fill in some more. We keep the lid on. However, the garbage will keep on stinking. We are trying to get the garbage out now. We have to throw it out. It will stink, and it will be uncomfortable. But unless we throw it out, the dustbin will remain clogged. Ultimately, the lid will not be able to keep the stink in"

Whatever was the problem with these counsellors, he had thought. Now all he could do was stare at the dustbin at his feet. "How many times will she have to clean it?"

Then, he cried.

For BLANK NOISE blog-a-thon 2006

Action Hero dhoomketu


Sexual Harassment on the Street: Blog-a-thon

The Blank Noise Project has called for a Blog-a-thon :

"To recognize Women's Day, and as part of an effort to build a core constituency that is aware of the Blank Noise Project, we're organizing a blogathon for Tuesday, the 7th of March. 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. Or deal with the subject anyway you like. On International Women's Day, which is March 8th, it would be exciting to see the theme of harassment become audible on the Indian and diasporic blogosphere."

I remember many instances, as a teenager, way back in the 80's being 'harrassed' on the street and in public buses. At the time, I didn't know quite what to do about it ... it was almost embarrassing to mention it to friends or family, it seemed like such a personal 'attack', and in my growing awareness of my body at that age, it wasn't something I could share easily. Neither was it something I could 'prove' in any way, it was sometimes just that brush of a hand against your body, sometimes more blatant than that. I remember many times in a really crowded BEST bus where you're squashed among bodies, smelling armpits as you cling to the handle, when a hand would snake around my breasts and try and squeeze them. Or I'd feel a hard groin against my back. Though I hated it, I thought then, it was just part and parcel of travelling by bus. I didn't even realise then it was 'harrassment' of a kind.

Just the once, did I actually retaliate ...I will share that story on March 7th !

I'm happy to see a space that encourages people to talk about this, one that tells you that it is wrong, and inspires you that you CAN do something about it.

(And heh .. just came across this blog that's called Holla Back NYC - which asks people to send in pictures of street harrassers ... it even has a Holla Back Hall of Fame. Cam phones make it so easy to do! Its also a little scary ... )

Do spread the word for the Blog-a-thon ... and share your experiences ... and tag it with this code :

Blank Noise Project Blogathon 2006

Updates :

Annie Zaidi has a really powerful post on her experiences and lessons learnt in navigating the streets of Delhi and the local trains in Bombay.  She also brings up another aspect worth thinking about ....

There is another aspect to this that I can't help thinking about: it creates a never-ending trap of dependence that many men resent equally.  We women depend - are taught to depend, are left with no option but to depend - on men for our safety and survival.
We can go out, but with 'ghar ke ladke' to take care of us. The brother, husband, father, cousin or boys known to the family will escort us - to a movie, to a mall, to a party. At best, you might be able to manage if you're a big group of girls. But how many times can you walk around as girl-gangs?

We learn, consciously and sub-consciously, that we cannot do anything alone. And if we do, we're going to have wage war every inch of the way.  That lesson is etched in so deep that conceiving of 'life' alone is... No wonder you need men. No wonder you need marriage. No wonder you cling to the man, because how will you manage alone?

And Stephanie at HumLab joins in with a twist : "We will attempt to capture 'being a women' through audio, text, picture, collaborative sidewalk art, as well as giving women a change to blog in their own words. There is a twist, however! You get the chance to participate by sending in your digital pictures to our flickr account. The theme is, of course, 'on being a woman'. The email address to send in photos is strong92easy@photos.flickr.com"

Action Hero Dina Mehta


Respect HER and HER Rights

Its Powelessness, lack of ombudsaman, lack of representation, lack of voices, lack of genuine supporters, lack of intent and ill-will to respect sexual egalitarianism.

There have been innumerable times when ive had the strongest of intent to murder the guy that turns back from his vehicle to 'check' me out when im all at is to have a pleasent evening walk. Or drill the eyes (with a drilling machine) of a smut letcher that makes impropreity passes, or to hammer the head of an autodriver that adjusts his mirror just to have a better glimpse of his hiree.

But almost always i dont vent the frustration and i let it go by, partly because im not empowered adequately to have the 'Perpetrators' punished and partly because somewhere within me i have grown to accept and expect this 'decorum-less' treatment meted out to a women. In a country where rapists can be spared capital punishment, surely eve-teasing is considered in the eyes of the law-practioners as not abnormal.

I know as i write this, im writing what millions of young indian women like me go through almost with a religious regularity after every dawn and dusk.

Yes i know i should think about being a part of the solution and not a problem, but just here really i wish somehow a gentle swing of a magic wand brings about the correctitude paradigm shift in the great indian male minds. Forever. Really. No wait why should this be a wishful thought because all we're expecting the men to do is behave themselves.

Written for - Blank Noise

Action Hero Divya Kumar


Telling Tales

I could tell you a thousand tales. And round it up with an account of how the autowalla nudged his elbow into my breasts and stared at my chest as he took the money from my outstretched palm. Or that someone rammed into me last week on a crowded bus where there was a mishmash of sweaty legs, arms, thighs, breasts and backs. Aunties and children with drooping bags and office going men. It might have been a mistake, an involuntary slamming of the brakes maybe causing someone to grab me instead of the handle for support… but a hand snaking around my chest to feel me up, and not just one a tangle of hands – all going for the kill? How can someone – respectable, my father’s age… Maybe I should recount how we saw a man leering as he masturbated away on the metro.Or perhaps the most traumatic – middle bunk on the train to Rourkela and the man above flailing long arms to squeeze my breasts. That was no accident ..just my introduction to the big bad world . I was twelve.

I have had my moments of triumph though. Stamping on feet. Thank god for high heels. Nudging a safety pin against someone’s prying palms till they yelped. The people were nice; the conductor hauled the man off the bus. I was lucky. It helped that my sister was with me, that I knew I could get down from the bus and walk away. But far and few in between.

I often wonder about the song “Hungry eyes” from “Dancing” and how true it is in a different context. Have you ever been mentally undressed by someone, had them appraise your body? Have you had someone follow you home? And all the while on a deserted street you agonized over what if? Cant run , cant let them catch up. Rapid steps, bag clutched to chest as armour. And the smell of fear in the air. Everytime I go out.
Because you see I was inviting trouble by wearing something sleeveless, I asked for it. I am just an assimilation of breasts and a vagina and a butt. I am not thinking of the lewd comments and the silly songs – that’s just routine and I manage to laugh it off. I wish though I didn’t live in this constant state of watching my back every time I go out. As a friend once said – it’s enough to be a female to evoke such reactions.A male friend once got propositioned on a Mumbai local train . And developed a profound sympathy. And really how humiliating it is for men to be told that they have no control over themselves. Just because a girl is showing her bare arms.. There are exceptions of course - men who have supported me on buses, friends who have got into fist fights because I was harrassed,policemen who were kind.

I could tell you about clothes I haven’t worn because I was so ashamed that they had provoked the nudges and shoves. The guilt, the shame, the anger. The conspiracy of silence and the acceptance that this will happen, what can we do about it..chod do.
There are so many tales to tell. She (1 dec post)could tell you what it is like in Bangalore, so does she.My friend Sangeeta would have tales to tell I am sure if she visited.I don’t know any woman exempt from this forced sisterhood.
I hope something constructive comes out of this. Thank you for trying. Maybe something will come out of these myriad tales.

Action Hero Dreamcatcher