What I feel now is…

… terrible. Everybody around me was talking about rape and rights of women and I felt very weird because it was a new thing for me. I felt even weirder when I realized that people are realizing it only now. But, I’m glad that at least a small percentage of people did make an effort to show their solidarity against the inhumane acts against women. Many inquired why I’m not writing a post about what has happened in India. Some even told certain incidents from their life which they wanted me to mention in my post. But, I refrained from writing a post all this while only because I was badly hurt by the incident. I couldn’t cope with the fact that heinous acts can happen to women to any extent.

For an ordinary woman like me the number of stories about being raged and flushed with anger has lost count.

There was a peon in our school who molested most of the “physically matured” girls. The girls who got their period and growth of breasts were very innocent in their minds; after all we cannot expect a 6th girl in late 1990s to be as informative as the same aged girls now. The girls had no clue how to react when he did things to them because they were ignorant. Stories about him circulated among the girls and even the teachers knew about it. Surprisingly, no action was taken though parents complained about him to the school authority. Teachers are not Gods and I realized it when the girls in the Sanskrit class started telling stories about the newly recruited male teacher. It was his hobby to put his hands through the sleeves of the girl’s uniform on the pretext of pinching the girl as a punishment. Things went out of control when one of the girls was caught with the teacher in an empty classroom. The story ended with a twist when the teacher appeared with his wife and kids because he had joined the school saying that he was a brahmachari. Today, when I look back, my blood boils with anger thinking why the parents never fought to throw him out of the school.

Moving to a school in the heart of the city only worsened the conditions. The school being a girls only school taught me a lot of interesting things. Talking to a boy was considered as a serious crime and such girls were branded as “bitches”. So when I told my friends that my best friend is a boy and I played cricket with my neighborhood childhood friends, they almost fainted. Using public transport to school was a terrible thing as the bus conductors hated the students. At times the conductors would pat the bum of the girls asking them to give space for him to move around in the bus. The cleaner man of the bus is adhered to the foot board of the bus that without being touched and caressed by him, girls cannot get out of the bus. Some men love the surroundings of a girls’ school. Men standing of the walls of the school and lifting their lungi and flaunting their penis was not an unusual scene for us. Whenever we have complained, we have always got a standard reply which is like “why did you look at him?”. Pick every girl who studied with me and every one will be having thousands of such stories. Once I even slapped a man who tried to hold me and for more than a week I made my Father drop me in school as I was too scared to travel alone. Travelling in KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) buses are even messed up. The bus has only one door and that too at the rear end. While getting down, you can never make out who touched your bum and who touched your breasts. By the time the women wearing sari get down from a crowded KSRTC bus, if they are lucky there won’t be any scars or nail scratches on their body. And since the bus will be too crowded, we cannot place who did things to us.

The torture saga in the train started when I moved out of house of my graduation. While travelling in the sleeper suddenly we can feel the hands on our legs. We would become wide awake to see a shadow running away.By the time we realize what has happened, the shadow must have disappeared completely. Once a woman complained caught a man when he tried to grope her leg. She was sleeping in the lower berth of the sleeper class. The police beat him and took him away. None of us slept that night fearing what may happen through rest of the journey.

I don’t know why nobody (including me) has ever complained about people throwing stones into the ladies compartment in the trains. While I used to travel in the Cannanore – Cochin Intercity Express, there are two places (before Kuttipuram and before Shornur) where men would be sitting on the gravels next to the rails and when the train passes by, they would hurl stones at the ladies compartment. The daily travelling ladies would ask rest of the crowd in the ladies compartment to close the doors and windows before reaching those spots. I wonder what pleasure and satisfaction the men get by throwing stones at women.

There is a dialog collection which I have heard from the day I started working in Chennai. Though I have switched places, I always have half a kilometer distance to walk to get the public transport. The common dialogues are

“How much milk do you produce?”,”My penis is erected by seeing you”, “Can we book a room?”,”Have you seen my thing? Look, look”,*any of my organs* super super, can I touch them?”

Above are the few “decent” dialogues which are hurled at women who walk that half a kilometer distance. Some other things which they shout at us cannot be put on my blog, it will stink. And to add the surprise, these dialogues are said by even educated, well dressed professionals too. 

The lesson which I learned in past weeks is that now I started reacting to even the harmless comment passed on me. I realized that my silence is taken as YES even though it is just a comment.

But I still feel terrible because the peon and teacher still work in the school, men continue to lift their lungis and flaunt their penis, the stones are still thrown at the ladies compartment and my day is not complete without hearing couple of the comments.

473459_10151625998427268_1441258843_oImage courtesy : http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/male-allies/educating-boys-men/

41 thoughts on “What I feel now is…

  1. Because when it first happened and was reported SOME IDIOT who took the report was not bothered , this did not happen to his wife or daughter or sister .. HAD that person taken a step things would have changed..
    but this attitude of KOI NA.. CHALTA HAI .. has brought us here..

    I grew up and I can categorically say that I have never done anything like this , Yes we have teased girls or had some joke amongst ourself BUT never like this, Maybe it makes me a LESSER MAN.. dont know although saying that I dont remember any of my friends behaving like this .. rather it was the opposite some parents use to say that if we have a outing If bikram or Babbar or Sandy is going then its OK ..

    the problem is , the example of software engineer getting beaten up, the crowd beat him, but then how many men in that crowd WUDNOT do the same if given a chance,, THAT IS THE PROBLEM the crowd mentality .. it beats but it ALSO stands doing nothing watching the horror happening because its not one of their own ..

    Till we consider the other person as a HUMAN BEING (rather then a man or woman).. things wont change ..

    and you DEFINITELY dont lock urself, GET OUT THERE and if someone even tries anything SLAP THEM and PICK UP something and HIT them so hard that they dont EVER GET UP

    1. It is a blessing to have some guys like you,sandy or babbar around.There are few friends whom both my family and I trust so much.I used to feel so safe and secure whenever they are around.

      Like you said,all this while we hid a lot of matters thinking they are matters to be ashamed.I’m glad and optimistic that a little change has made a huge impact

      and yeah,I will never lock myself up because I believe I have the right to live in this society in freedom and with dignity

  2. This post has left a very bad taste in my mouth. It’s quite appalling that men behave this way. And, what is worse is that only women are blamed and asked to wear overcoats and call the rapists brothers. I wonder how things might change in the future. We have laws in place but they are not used on the perpetrators of crime. What needs to be changed, now, I think? I have no answers. I have been groped and touched while travelling in buses but I never had the courage to shout out. i just moved away and tried standing in a safe place where the jerk couldn’t reach me. Education is an answer they say, but how I ask.

    I must applaud you for writing this bare-it-all post. Hope there are good answers for the questions that we have in mind.

    Joy always,

    1. oh Susan,even I have done this moving to a safe place a lot of times.because by looking at the crowd we know that we are not going to get any support.That too at night when we are blamed for things,bearing it and moving used to be the only option I was left with.

  3. A bold post Bhavia. PT teachers, peons, new sports guys, men in the buses, trains, outrageous comments are such common part of growing up at least here in India that even the girls of today are going through this without a whimper… I heard today about banning co-ed schools and I am surprised at the thinking pattern. I firmly believe in co-ed schools because they teach how not to leer at your peers and treat them as equal.

    1. girls only and boys only schools should be banned.Such schools teach a very bad lesson to the kids about the opposite gender.In my school,boys were like a mystery for some of the girls

      1. it is obvious… because they don’t see the boys around all the time and same goes for girls only schools….

  4. Nice post and I empathize with you. It appears that passive resistance does not work and a kick up the balls is what is needed these days. I have friends, sisters , cousins and now my wife and my daughter and every day is a constant worry.
    Stay safe.

    1. much worse than the men around me think.After reading this post,friends started emailing and calling me asking what they can do for me.my brother is shocked with a nightmare after reading this.

  5. Not a lot of people would be ready to write things you have written here. This post is not about art, but about facts. All I want to say is that people like you should ‘keep responding’ about this. Don’t let this flame die.. Really frank post..I got a lot to say about this, but not right now.

  6. It’s a very commendable post Bhavia. As you said, it’s amazing that people are only just realising that this occurs. For us women, it’s been an ongoing thing. As you said, it didn’t matter what we wore…you got harassed. Back in India, I was groped in baggy jeans and a T-shirt, a school uniform and a salwar kameez. But I never spoke up then as I was too scared. Since going back to India on holidays, I wear tighter tops and jeans but am more assertive. If anything has to change, it’s the mentality that women are to blame. Otherwise, no laws will make a difference. And the stuff you’ve mentioned being yelled out at you and others are just disgusting.

    1. I feel ashamed thinking that all this while I was bearing all the nonsense people hurl at me and other women.
      but I’m optimistic because now a small percentage of people have changed their mentality towards the blame game

  7. Bhavia,
    What you have written is the extend to which the rot has spread in our society. Sometimes I am so ashamed that I am a part of this country.

    1. yes it is deep rooted but I’m sure that we can make efforts to change this cheap and disgusting mentality.Few days back one of my friends told that he stopped ogling at girls because of the bad things he experienced while he took his sister and sister-in-law out.so if people can change even before something happening to their own and if they can empathize and realize that girl could have been anybody from my family,I think it is a bit of a change

  8. interior parts of Chennai is as same as your Kerala transport, there were a day where in I don’t even know the reason why certain girls dress will be so wet and they were ignorant enough to find the wet, but found a day where a guy was masturbating and the sperm is getting sticked to the gal salwar. I directly went, slapped and told to go and fcuk a iron rod which will satisfy the needs. Unless we are aware of the surrounding we are in, it hard to live in. people use to talk in mobile even after hoping into bus, strangers take them as a chance and they engrossed in talking and they are so ignorant about it and never react when miserable happens. Today morning, a fresh news, a lady with the age of 23 was standing for bus near the airport with a formal attire and a guy at the back was staring at the lady figure and I got no way to get down and slap, instead took a paper and sticked the bubble gum and throw-ed on him, it sticked to his shirt and he got diverted. won’t these ladies have a over coat, at least they can protect themselves by covering some shall untill they reach the office. It doesn’t mean that you office demands to come in tight formal attire, you must be going the same way from home. Rogues will be there and if we want to be safe we gotta be. never slap have a compass, it will create a wider pain than slap, have pin, else wear a pinpoint heal and stand on the leg, even the dogs are matured enough but not the humans, when a male dog tries to go near to a female dog, another one will come at least to fight, in human you can see humans like that.

  9. Gosh Bhavia. Frankly, I’m not surprised, have faced most of them. But as I grew older, I somehow started to speak out.

    Feel ashamed. 😐

  10. We are a nation of cowards and hypocrites, Bhavia. Like you, I too waited a long time before doing a post. Missed you on the Hypocrisy….post. Do read, if you have not. And no, you should not sit at home, but slap the next man who annoys you in any way, just as your friend had done.

  11. Every girl/woman has a story to share about being molested or eve teased or the likes of it…… It is truly depressing. Only the right education and change in mindset of the society can save us!

  12. Frankly speaking I think your are very brave, bold and courages to have wrote this post. I respect this and it’s important for people to learn the reality on the ground. I was in Mumbai for the entire time in December 2012 and I realised the difference between how women are treated in India and UK. I am shocked to see, how people get away with such incidents and why no one does anything about it. Surely, those in power see this crime being committed.

  13. What I find most commendable in this post is that you have uninhibitedly described exactly what happens–the words, the actions and then our responses! In a way just by naming it you have made them visible in the public sphere because half the problem is in the invisibility–the whispers and attribution that it is rumours, the tell-tales, shushes and hushes. There was a very powerful thing that Shoaila Abdullah wrote in her blog and I paraphrase–rape is not some isolated mystification–irrespective of penetration or not, we are raped every day on the road/buses/trains…Kudos to you for doing your bit in bringing this to light…

  14. Wow Bhavia… Your best so far! Goddd those Lungi-lifting Londas! I remember throwing a stone at one (near Nadakkav). But my aim was sooo pathetic that it hit the traffic police on the ankle. I was horrified & bolted.
    These days I carry pepper spray everywhere and my policy is ‘when in doubt, spray’. I know its bad & there’s a possibility that I might hit innocent people. What to do.

  15. My wife has been a ‘grope’ victim many times in buses in her school and college days, and she too was afraid to react. But I was under the impression things like that have considerably reduced these days – how wrong I was!! and I’m shocked to know these things still continue to happen even in a city like Chennai.

    You are a big girl now, you should react when such things happen to you.

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