(For Blank Noise Project Blog-a-thon 2006)
I don’t know to write essays on the topic of Street Harassment. I ll let my own experience speak.
The earliest experience that I can remember very clearly and has been haunting me forever was on a train. I was walking with my dad while my sis and mom were coming behind. We were walking on the train to get to our seats. A man who was walking towards us bumped on me, put his hand inside my top and groped my breasts. I was 13. I was wearing a white salwar with tiny pink flowers printed on them. I was too shocked to react and the man was gone by the time I came to my sense. Welcome to the world of perverts!
The three years I studied in Trichy was hell. I was groped, pinched, slapped behind, touched or the least teased almost everyday. I can write a book about it. I would say Coimbatore is a heaven compared to Trichy or Chennai. In my personal experience that is! To each to their own. I would really want to know why these men behave the way they do. Most definitely they have a mother and perhaps a sister at home. Or at least cousins. I can’t believe they will marry one day, have a family and be a responsible person. And lets not even get to the topic of old perverts. They just make me plain sick.
I went to the RK Hospital in Bangalore 4 years back for a medical check up. A chest x-ray was taken. There was a man in that big lab and while I stood with my chest pressed to the machine, he came behind me and told me he had to adjust a little. When I said ok, he put both his hands on my breasts and adjusted them! Whoa! I was shivering. I was wearing the skimpy hospital gown with nothing underneath. I did nt know what to do. I did nt even note down the assholes name. I am stupid, I know. I came out very angry and spoke to the girl who had her x-ray taken before me. She said she went in with her mom (smart move!) but even she felt a little scared about that guy. I have not felt that violated even when I got my first pap smear in a strange country by a strange man speaking a strange language. There’s always a female nurse with you all the time when a male doctor is examining you there. I can’t tell you how safe it makes you feel.
The worst thing about all this harassment is that it follows you home and screws up your life. I am in a bad mood for days; I pick up a fight on the drop of a hat with people at home. I want them to understand even without me telling them what happened. I am afraid they will call me stupid for not having reacted. I am angry with my parents for not keeping me safe from these animals. I want them to listen to every whim of mine because I think they owe me for making me go through this shit. I hate them for being irresponsible. I hate men. I am always suspicious about men. Now that I have a daughter, I am going to be paranoid all my life. Welcome to the world of perverts, kiddo.
And this is the first time I am talking about the harassment loudly. Telling your mother/sister/friend that you were pinched in your inner thigh today by an asshole on the bus is not easy. Believe me, its not easy. Especially when you are 15 years old. So I welcome projects like Blank Noise. Heres to safer streets!
ps. The two years I lived in the UK and another two years in Switzerland, I did nt have one experience of street harassment.
pps. And all the nice men out there who are really hurt that women are always suspicious about every man, stop being a whiner! Would you rather get hurt by getting pinched in your non-existent breasts? Please! Don't make this "your" issue
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