This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“I’ve Never Been More Terrified In My Life”: Shock, Anger, And Terror

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Protest marches. Traffic blockages. Banners and slogan-shouting. And endless, endless outpourings of grief, anger, rhetoric, but mostly outrage, on print and electronic media, and the Internet. And rightly so. Even too much is too little, sometimes.


The recent gang-rape of a girl and the assault of her boyfriend in a moving bus in New Delhi have made national and international headlines. It’s all we’ve been talking about for the past couple of days. Move over, Jacintha Saldanha, and Dhoni, you can take a quick coffee break – we’ve got bigger fish to fry, for now.

As a woman, I’m shocked. As an Indian, I’m ashamed. And as someone who’s recently moved to Delhi, I’m scared. And I know that there are thousands of others out there, like me, who will now think twice about evening outings, with or without the perceived security of a male companion. Yes, it curtails my freedom. Yes, the city is mine, and yes, I do have the right to go where I want, when I want, with whom I want. But no, I don’t want to get raped. And if that means staying inside the comfort of four walls reading a book, or catching the latest movie on my laptop on a bad-quality torrent DVDrip as opposed to the cinematic experience, so be it. It’s a small price to pay, for the sanctity and security of my own body.

I’ve been wondering why this particular rape case has shaken us all up more so than others in the past. Maybe it’s because it could happen to any one of us. That’s the thing about rape – it’s a lot closer, and a lot more personal, than we might think. But maybe it’s because this particular rape case breaks down all the rules, those ‘conventional notions’ that we’ve been fed with ever since we were old enough to step out of the house on our own. “Don’t go around the city late at night.” 9 or 9:30 pm is not late by any standards, especially in a city like New Delhi. “If you must be out, have a male companion with you, for protection.” The girl was with her boyfriend. “Don’t walk around the streets, take public transport, sometimes even autos aren’t safe – take a bus.” They took a bus.

So maybe that’s why this case is hitting us harder than the others. That’s not to say that other rape cases are more acceptable, or God forbid, forgivable. This case is making us sit up because it questions our own notions of conventional safety, rules that we’ve been programmed with, rules that we protested against but were told would protect us, but now have come to naught.

What’s to be done? I’ve been reading countless Facebook posts, some of which espouse public flogging, some which call for chemical or physical castration, and some which favour capital punishment. And I’ve read many articles online, which suggest measures like GPS tracking for public transport vehicles, better CCTV installations, higher frequency of police patrolling, ad nauseam ad infinitum.

But what will be done? Home Minister Shinde has said that tinted windows will be made illegal. What an idea, Sirjee! Let’s see if it stops the rapes, shall we? Can we honestly expect any changes in the system? Can we expect to feel safer? I for one, don’t. I used to think Calcutta was a safe city (apart from the occasional cat-calling and whistling, but hey, as they say, men will be men, right?) till I got grabbed by a cyclist in broad daylight. While I’ve been to Delhi about 16-17 times, I’ve been living here for the past 1 and 1/2 months, and I don’t think it’s safe by any standards. But this, this is just on some different level. What happened to the girl and her boyfriend is beyond comprehension, even beyond reprehension. It’s a level that we’re scared to even imagine, because imagining it makes it personal.

A close male friend has ordered pepper spray for me. There used to be a time when I thought pepper spray was one of the answers, but today, I asked him how it would be effective because in the amount of time it’d take me to get the pepper spray out of my bag, I’d already be under attack. I even thought about carrying a knife for self-defence. Then again, what can one knife do against six goons, drunk not just on alcohol but with power and lust?

My work shift sees to it that I come home around midnight. The office car drops me right in front of where I live. Yet I still can’t help being scared. I used to think living in fear was not the answer. But maybe there is no answer. When I leave for work in the morning, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, staying alert for men who might be following me, keeping an eye out for potential attackers. Every nameless man out there on the street seems like a violation of my perception of safety. And I’ve never been more terrified in my life.

You must be to comment.
  1. Daphne

    wonderfully articulated. Respect the opinions.

  2. Charumati Haran

    I can understand how you feel. When we go out on the streets of Delhi, no matter how old we are, no matter what time it is and no matter how crowded the stretch, we have to watch out for ourselves. Keep a wary an eye as we can about any unpleasant occurrences. They tall us to go out as boldly as we can to prevent attackers from picking us out as the victim but how can we feel bold when we feel no faith in the law to protect us?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Saurabh Gandle

By Anil Kumar

By Ashmita

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below