When I was told to write an article on a social concern, I kept wondering what the topic of my article would be until I met my friend a few days ago. She narrated to me what she had to endure a few days back while returning back home from college. She was walking alone on the road when she felt a wrong touch- somebody’s hand on her back. Though she gathered courage and picked up a fight with the man to teach him a lesson – the incident left behind a scar in her mind.
Unfortunately, this is the story of lakhs of innocent girls who are abused, harassed or teased at least once in their life. This is the harsh reality in India, essentially so in most of its towns and cities. With more and more women going out for education and work independently, this problem grew to an alarming proportion. It has become an inseparable part of a girl’s life, causing her irreparable mental agony. Cheap gestures, hurling lewd comments, a seemingly casual touch, bumping in or staring, humming a song or even a sly whistle are all instances of harassment. The ways a woman can be abused are endless and if unchecked could lead to public humiliation in broad daylight. This happens at auto/bus terminals, theatres, restaurants, parks and at an alarming rate on the roads. The most disgusting fact is that even small children aren’t spared by these harassers because of their high vulnerability.
I would like to recount another ghastly incident that my roommate shared with me. She was out for an evening stroll when boys in a slow moving car playing loud music, all eyes measuring her up, screamed out, “Hey, I love you, will you marry me?” She was taken aback and stood there helplessly.
Another question that arises here is “Does the witnessing public show any concern?” Most of the time the answer is NO. So, now what should be the solution to this problem? Regular police patrolling or transfixing a sense of right behaviour in the generations to come? Framing stringent laws or avoiding its glorification in movies?
All these measures will be done in if the victim herself doesn’t speak up. To all the girls out there, it is important you understand that a sexual harasser gains confidence when he notices that the girl he abuses does nothing about it or causes him no harm. This encourages him and he elevates to attempting physical contact. Lash out against it in some or the other way. Even if you feel that it is not safe to retaliate at that moment, don’t hesitate to share what happened with your elders or register a complaint in the nearest police station. Teach them that they won’t be let free if they don’t learn to respect women. It’s high time we girls learn to fight back rather than unwillingly ignore it or be indifferent to it. Don’t shy away from it and if the situation is out of control, just punch him right in the face. Don’t take the hurt and humiliation, act sternly to avoid feeling violated!
“You punch me, I punch back. I do not believe it’s good for one’s self-respect to be a punching bag.” —Edward Koch.