Where I come from, Cochin, street sexual harassment is so common that the days where my boobs haven't been grabbed, my ass hasn't been pinched, I feel ugly and unwanted. I wonder if I am not attractive anymore.

I can't just point out a single episode; each and every one is worth mentioning.

Eighth Grade- Every morning on the way to school, I d get grabbed at the junction. I used to ignore 'cause it was too crowded for me to identify the hands that touched me. I used to try protecting myself with my school bag. But it just wouldn't stop these men. So one morning I fought back. I grabbed the hand that grabbed me and punched his face real hard. He didn't hit back 'cause he was in shock; well obviously he was not expecting it. And before he could recover from it, I ran for my life.

Did it make me feel better? Yes

Did things change? No

I stopped taking that route afraid something worse could happen. I walked an extra two kilometers to avoid that hand.

Tenth Grade- By now I was used to Cochin, I was always on alert, I had learnt the local language so verbal abuses were taken care of. And it did feel good to see the look on their faces on hearing the words coming out of my mouth. Words my mother wouldn't be proud of, but I sure was. But I did get tired of looking over my shoulder. It was ridiculous to not be able to walk around freely at twelve in the afternoon. There was this pervert down the road who used to jerk off looking at me twice a day (everyday). I used to ignore it because it was just me and my mother at home, and he knew where we lived. But then I found out that my friend's kid sister refuses to get out of the house 'cause she s scared of 'the man who unzips his pants'. The following day, the guy starts following me and I walked quicker. Next thing you know his masturbating hand is on my shoulder and I don't know what came over me, but I ended up drop kicking him in his face and running for my life.

The running never stopped.

I have always fought these guys. I never took the abuse. But I never stopped running. A karate belt can't stop it. A strong attitude cant stop it. I continue to fight these guys day after day but I still have to look over my shoulder any time I walk on the streets of Cochin.

Bangalore experience- I thought Bangalore was better off, but last month I was on the bus to K R Puram and my friend and I kept getting grabbed. We turn around to see who it was, but it was too crowded to make out. And not knowing kannada, we couldn't say anything. We turned our asses away from whoever it was but then he started yanking our pony tails. I mean it was ridiculous, what sick pleasure do they get from pulling our hair?

Posted 5th March 2007