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

When Strangers Took A Stand And Saved Me From A Sexual Attack

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Shivani Desai:

“Its past 8 pm. Damn the government. Where are the street lights? God knows what they do with all the money we pay as taxes. I should be hurrying home. I am so used to walking down this road every day from school to home. But things look so different and eerily weird in the twilight hours. Even the movement of the trees in the breeze feels creepy. Why did I choose to wear heels today? They make so much noise clicking away against the road. What if someone follows me? I can’t even run in these godforsaken heels. I should have taken up karate instead of dance at school. It would have taught me some moves of self-defence instead of moulding me into this shapely woman. Haaaiya!! Hee!! Haw! To top it all, I ate an extra slice of that large pizza at the birthday party. So much for not wanting to waste food. Now I have to waddle instead of walking. And mum is going to be angry because I am late.”

This is how my thoughts strayed that evening, till I saw him. A man. Fairly young. Shirtless. Dirty baggy pants. I would have ignored him as a beggar had he been lying slumped somewhere along the periphery of the road. Or probably a day labourer judging from his clothes. I would have given him a cursory glance and not bothered about his presence had he simply been walking in my general direction, instead of walking directly towards me. Staggering and swaying as he came closer. It crossed my mind that he was probably drunk and I should let him pass by. I halted and moved to the left. So did he. I moved to the right. And he followed pattern. He stopped short just a couple of feet away from me. A greedy gleam in his eyes and a wicked degrading smile on his face. He was mouthing words that I could hardly make sense of. I froze on spot.

I felt like a cornered animal.

It was a chilly January evening and yet I had beads of perspiration beginning to show on my forehead and my kurta was wet at the armpits. The man had managed to pull his trousers half way down, when someone from somewhere behind me sensed my predicament and let out a roaring shout “Hey you, what are you up to? Leave the girl alone.”

1400387_728619313819345_733274957_o

A watchman and another chap appeared as though magically, upon hearing the shout. The guy pulled up his pants, dropped his drunken stance, registered the scene and fled. I looked back, saw the Sardarji uncle who had kept out an eye for me, shouted back a hasty thank you and ran all the way home — heels and all.

Did the story sound familiar? Would you say it was along the same lines of another such incident that has been recounted to you? This story is mine. Every day, countless women in our country go through similar stories – so much that it has become a part of our daily lives.

That day, if the Sardarji uncle had not come to my aid… I shudder to think of what would have happened to me. I believe that every street, every area in our country is filled with people like Sardarji Uncle. And I only hope that every girl in trouble can get connected to these people in her surroundings.

Recently, I came across an initiative called #SAFE, a pan-India initiative driven by Social Cops (www.socialcops.org), a technology social enterprise focused on harnessing the power of citizens & communities to solve real-life problems. SAFE is crowd sourcing Community Watchers — people who have the passion enough to not just talk about women’s safety, but actually step up and take responsibility of making women around them feel safer.

The Call to Action Is Simple… If you want SAFE to come to your neighbourhood and have the courage to step up as a Community Watcher: Voice yourself on the SAFE Map here

Featured Photo Credit: jodigreen via Compfight cc

You must be to comment.
  1. Anurag Rathord

    Really heart touching incident Ms. Shivani. As you know this is the life. If there are bad guys then there are also good souls to help someone and this is very sensitive issue too. Just become self reliant so that in future you can face these challenges on your own. Good Luck

    1. Shivani

      That’s true. There are good samaritans around too.

      I ran home all the way in heels, something which I thought I was not capable of doing till then. That probably means I was capable of handling the situation myself though I wasn’t aware of it. But sometimes, being self reliant is not sufficient. Social Cops : SAFE initiative is one such call to all the good souls to stand up and volunteer to help women in situations like mine, where we could put up a braver face and fight the bad guys 🙂

    2. Anurag Rathord

      Perfectly true & you have a nice understanding……….May God bless u………………………..

  2. Shivani

    That’s true. There are good samaritans around too.

    I ran home all the way in heels, something which I thought I was not capable of doing till then. That probably means I was capable of handling the situation myself though I wasn’t aware of it. But sometimes, being self reliant is not sufficient. Social Cops : SAFE initiative is one such call to all the good souls to stand up and volunteer to help women in situations like mine, where we could put up a braver face and fight the bad guys 🙂

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Imran Khan

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Jenne Maxwell

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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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