Date: New Year’s eve more than a decade ago
Event: Catching a movie at a high-end Mall by a family of three.
The movie wound up by 11.45 pm and all of us made our way back to our parked cars. Mine was parked about 200 m from the mall. As we descended down the escalators, huge streams of men were seen coming up. Considering that most outlets in the mall were closed by then, it was clear that they were just drunk, in huge numbers and looking for some kind of revelry. The mall was packed in no time.
We got out on to the street just like many other families. The roads were jam packed with people. Huge crowds on the streets – screaming and making merry. That is when this rush of men came towards me. One of them groped me and quickly moved on. I experienced shock and felt really sick. I wanted to hit out but they had moved on very quickly. No one could do anything. My mood deflated from happy to dejected in one moment. And in case you are wondering, I was dressed from head to toe. It is quite chilly in Bangalore in December.
It's sickening & repulsive when someone gropes you. It''s never your fault. No matter what & how many morons say it. #Bengalurushame
— Rachna says (@rachnaparmar) January 3, 2017
Feeling quite gloomy, we made our way to the car. En route home, our car was stopped twice by drunk men who blocked our way. Short of running them over, we had no choice but to stop. They had beer bottles in their hands and were grinning. I barely saw any police presence on the road. We stopped our car and luckily for us those guys just said Happy New Year and then gave us way.
It was nerve wracking and we just wanted to reach home. Once home, I pledged never to go out to a public place on New Year’s Eve. I don’t ever want to face that kind of fear and revulsion ever again. Not that I am a party animal anyway.
Don't trust the state to do anything for you. They will say the same women in short clothes invite trouble BS. #Bengalurushame
— Rachna says (@rachnaparmar) January 3, 2017
Truly sad, isn’t it? And if you want to give me a lecture on why I should teach them a lesson by going out, go ahead. I will just say to you — make the city safe first, then we will talk.
Recent furore over groping incidents on Brigade Road in Bangalore brought back these ugly memories for me. These packs of perverse men who prowl the streets on New Year’s Eve target women simply because they see strength in number and most importantly fear no action from law enforcement. It is not new. It doesn’t mean Bangalore is now equal to Delhi or some such. It just means that it is same tale across every city in India.
I am curious to see if any will be put behind bars and will actually be punished now that they have video evidence.
It is shameful that in an India as progressive as today’s, I have to think multiple times before walking on the streets or taking my car out at night. Every woman and girl has faced this kind of harassment in some form. From lewd comments, stares to groping and molestation, we tolerate it on a daily basis. Yes, we do give back at times when possible.
Even my sons have noticed this. When I drive with them or go for a chore, they have seen men stare or pass lewd comments. This desperate, sexually frustrated creed will go to any lengths for some perverse pleasure.
Yes, I carry a pepper spray with me now and I do avoid going out on certain occasions and times. It is unfortunate that I have to do that for my safety.
Because the state, its ministers, its police force and sometimes even its citizens are not doing enough to safeguard me. Instead, I hear the same victim blaming and shaming even from women.
#NotAllMen understand the harassment women face almost on a daily basis. I am touched by all the stories I’ve read of women sharing their experiences and solutions. That so many of us are standing up to this.
Will there ever be an end to this?
This is not a battle of genders. It is an issue that our girls and women face and it is important that we pay attention to it at all levels of the society.
From making our police force more sensitive to gender crimes to making our law machinery more efficient, from bringing our sons up right to teaching our girls self-defense and how to protect themselves in such situations, from starting a dialog on the level of society to bringing in change leaders and celebrities to continue the discourse, a lot needs to be done!
We don’t need a cycle of outrage and name calling that dies down. We need sustained effort and continued discourse.
Can we do it?
Image courtesy: EAK MOTO on Shutterstock
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