Right now, my mind is a mish-mash of thoughts and emotions, so pardon me if I am not being too coherent. It’s been over 3 months since I last blogged, and that’s rather unusual for me. It seems as though the writer in me has quietly disappeared. It’s not as if I have nothing to say any more. I do. I have just found a way to verbalize it without having to write. Maybe that’s what comes of being happily married. I don’t know.

At a time when the nations (and the Twitter timeline) is outraging over the Guwahati incident, I have something similar to say. It doesn’t matter what the girl was doing, at what time of the day and what she was wearing. She is at much as risk as at any other place.

I have always been rather secure in my assumption that I was relatively safe in Chennai. Since last year, this sense of security has been enhanced by the fact that I was now a married woman, with at least one outwardly visible sign of marriage: a toe-ring that I find too pretty to remove. This sense of security was rudely broken yesterday, and along with it, my privacy and my composure.

It was a normal and busy workday.  I was on my way to work on my trusted Activa around 9. I noticed that a bike was busy trying to catch up with me, not overtake, but match pace for almost 2 kilometres before the signal. I ignored it, knowing as I do that bikers often seem to think that a woman on a scooter is interesting to destabilize. About 5 minutes away from my workplace, the man stopped me and asked me something. I couldn’t hear a thing in the din of the traffic. I lifted the visor to hear better, only to realize he was commenting on my clothes and used words I’d rather not repeat. I snapped at him that I would call the police if he lingered one more minute, and he quickly sped away, either because of the threat, or because he figured his mission had been accomplished.

Inside, I was furious. I wished I knew martial arts so that I could kick him where it would hurt most. I was in tears because I felt violated. I was absolutely livid because at that instant, I knew that my clothes had nothing to do with the whole incident, attired as I was in a collared salwar suit with a dupatta firmly secured around my waist. After much raving and ranting that involved cursing him with a terribly painful and slow death, my mind cleared enough to reflect on the real issue at hand.

Even in the widespread outrage over the Guwahati incident, the media often stresses that the incident happened in the night outside a pub. It also stresses the age of the victim. As if it makes any difference. Look at what happened to me! I was dressed traditionally. I was on my way to work like any other normal human being and in broad daylight. I was wearing one dupatta secured around my waist and another around my head like a hijab to guard from the unforgiving sun. I was wearing a helmet with the visor down. I wasn’t drunk or partying. I was wearing a toe-ring that revealed my marital status. Yet, I was harassed. Had I been sixty years old with greying hair, I would still have been.

Why didn’t you complain, you might ask. I am ashamed to admit that I don’t trust the authorities. If I had raised my voice, tried to hit him or gone to the police, I would have been the showstopper of the morning. I am ashamed to admit that I felt that not one member of the public would have supported me. I would have been completely alone, I am pretty sure of that. I wasn’t, and am still not, willing to risk that.

We need to get one thing straight. Sexual harassment (Yes, please call it that. It’s NOT teasing) will happen if you happen to be female. No matter your age, your clothing, your habits or even your character. The perpetrator behaves so brazenly because he knows he will get away with it. He knows that if you try to complain, you will be victimized and hounded and not him. He know that society will subject you to scrutiny and not him. He will get away scot-free when you, simply because you are female, will be accused of provoking him.

This will stop only when we refuse to let our judgement of the situation be clouded by our judgement of the victim. It will happen only when we realized that no woman deserves to be blamed for harassment because no woman likes that kind of attention. The only question is, when will that happen.

A mish-mash of thoughts…

9 thoughts on “A mish-mash of thoughts…

  • July 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    omg! thankfully nothing worse happened! its most saddening and frustrating seeing the way we are treated in this country 🙁 and it doesnt seem to going to change anytime soon 🙁

    • July 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      Well…I am thankful too that nothing else happened. But it was a rude wake-up call. We aren’t safe anywhere, anytime.

  • July 27, 2012 at 1:27 am

    First of all I am glad that nothing untoward happened.

    secondly, it’s not your fault that the guy was a pr!ck. so why cry about it ? unless those tears were for the sad state of humanity !!
    (may be this is a guy thing, I don’t understand this reaction) *

    now some practical advice, unless you are really strong you are much weaker physically than the average male. and no matter what hollywood portrays no amount of martial arts will change that.

    all you would be able to do is further enrage an animal and remove whatever internal inhibition he had against even more violence.

    at most keep some pepper spray.

    stay safe and keep blogging. haven’t seen a history post from you in a long time. those were very good !


    * I have had the strange experience of being ‘touched’ repeatedly by a group of women in a local train. it felt a little odd and I moved away. but frankly speaking it didn’t matter to me much.

    I guess male and female brains are wired differently by evolution.

  • July 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Apologies for the late reply…was kinda caught up…About the tears, I was scared, terrified in fact. I knew I was alone in the world without any support that could be expected…

  • August 13, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I would have cried too, because at that moment, you feel so helpless, what else can you do?

    • August 17, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      Absolutely nothing else…it’s a horrible feeling…of helplessness and even weakness…

    • August 17, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Thanks! Hugs! 🙂

  • November 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    these kind of incidents happens here everyday
    i m from north india .i remember my 1st incident was when i was 12.you are lucky people living in south are very decent as considered the whole nation.here it’s too bad
    and you are right they dont care what you arewearing ,how old you are,married non married.with a guy without a guy:O.
    these people are basically sick in the head..mostly hailing from up and bihar.sucks bad
    with my 11 yrs of going through this there are only three things you can do
    1.always always see the shadows following you.be alert always.
    2.block away comment and never make eye contact(these people are way retarded,yhey think if you look at them.you like them).plus why hear what they have to say .they dont deserve the right and you and all the other women dont deserve to experience that.
    3.never abuse them.if you want just raise an alarm like keep honking on your car or scooty .if you are in the dangerous situation.
    4.and lastly dont be afraid to beat up the guy…if he misbehaves further(like groping and stuff)dont be scared to kick the hell out of him.
    you wont be a victim if you stop believing you re one.
    and i m so sorry what happened..i know how you feel..being the fact that you are married and still that happened is sad.
    and as far as authorities are concerned..they dontn normally do anything most times..but good bystanders help you out sometimes..mostly older ladies..


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