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

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