In an earlier post, I’d mentioned about a flyer distributed in Vyas’s school on ways to keep themselves safe, cautioning them on signs of sexual abuse. A similar flyer was circulated this year too by http://www.tulir.org and here is the online version:
And while on the subject, I thought I’d share an experience I had about 4 weeks back, something am still having trouble getting over with!
On my way back from work, I prefer to walk home from the bus stop where I alight, covering a distance of appx. 2 kms. The other alternatives would be to hop into a share auto or another bus. It felt good to walk that stretch in the evening. The last 3-4 mins stretch is through a pucca residential street where kids are usually seen riding a bicyle and people are seen chatting in groups, and quite a few cars and bikes are parked on the road as most houses on this lane do not have a built-in car-park.
It was around 7.00 PM when I was on this road when my FIL called on my mobile to check where I was (a norm because of the unpredictable traffic jams in Chennai these days). I answered the phone and on my other hand were a book and a bag. And then it came- a hard, intense, violent slap on my back by a speeding motorbike with 3 guys on it! I lost my balance and the mobile, book and bag were strewn on the road and I almost banged my shoulder against a parked car. The bike was not in sight the next second and I only heard a distant vrooom! I had a throbbing pain where the slap landed for hours after that. But even after days of this episode, the pain I still feel within is worse. How much ever I wish that the goons should have met with a deadly accident in the next turn, I know that it would not have happened and instead there would have been other women and younger girls who have been subjected to this pain or worse!
What makes people capable of such malice? How does a person capable of this filth have a night of peaceful sleep? How does inflicting physical pain on a unsuspecting fellow human being produce any pleasure?
After a tyrst with a stalker, I have been careful on the road. Sexual abuse in crowded places like buses, theaters, bus stops, railway stations etc is quite common. You’ll find scopophilic morons in such places. Few things to watch out for:
1. Ogling is a very common form of sexual harassment. Its sad to see some small school girls subject to this torment very often, specially in the buses. They’d find it difficult to express discomfort and are often doubtful of the intent of the abuser. Constant awareness lessons in schools will be of great help.
2. Watch for morons walking up to you and hurl themselves on you or feel-up where possible.
3. Stalkers who will pretend to accidentally step on your feet from behind and attempt bottom pinch/slap, or brush shoulders.
4. Its a really really bad idea to attempt getting into a bus when there is a crowd trying to get in at the same time.
5. Advancements made by an acquaintance- a relative or such- is not unheard of. I, for instance have had the bad fortune of listening to a 40+ year old moron, trying to tell me that hugging is the American way of saying good-bye or hello, in my early teens. I had sense enough to tell that neither he nor I was an American. Later, some whistle-blowing among our relatives kept the fellow at bay!
6. Watch out when you are walking on public roads after sunset, specially if there are many 4-wheelers parked. While you run the risk of being whisked away if there aren’t people, the parked vehicles also shield the abuser from view of common junta on the road like it happened in my case. By the time you pull out the chilli/pepper, the guys would have vaporized!
7. Being nudged from behind in theaters/auditoriums is common too.
Am trying to think of ways I could have avoided the mishap. Not answering a phone call on road does not seem convincing- goes against the ‘walk as you talk’ marketing:) Never to walk down that road feels like a surrender (but that is the truth. i have not taken that road since then)! The hubby said that I should have shouted like crazy to seek some attention at least. Maybe. But I was taken totally unawares (yeah, I know all such instances don’t always come with a warning. still….) and was too shocked to react.
There must be many more preposterous ways of harassment. Do share some tips to avert such encounters, or do a detailed post on your experiences please. Feels cathartic to have shared it here, like having offset some load. While I would like to believe all is well with the world, a closed introspection has a different story to tell.