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

A Young Woman Recounts A Disturbing Incident Of Sexual Harassment In A Rickshaw

By Vaishnavi Pavithran Alokkan:


College was done for that day. I flagged down an e-rickshaw and got in with two men sitting. Let us name them Mr. X and Mr. Y. X was wearing a black shirt unbuttoned almost completely and sat opposite me. Y was sitting next to me and didn’t seem to care much. The driver continued and I plugged in my earphones oblivious to the surroundings. A few minutes later, I felt Mr. X’s knee brush against my leg. I assumed it was an accident and gave him the benefit of the doubt. Carefully, I crossed my legs and continued humming. Two seconds later, I felt his legs continuously tapping and shaking. Finding it weird I looked at him and he gave me a smirk. The hair at the back of my neck stood up prickly in response. I knew things were about to go bad. I turned down my music but kept my earphones plugged in hoping he wouldn’t do unnecessary things to ruin my day. Given what followed, that was me being naive at best.

He placed his hand on his private parts.

X: “Bhai. He is awake.”

Y: *laughs* “I wonder why.”

X: “Guessing because a girl came.” (‘chokri‘ in his terms.)

Y: “Of course. After so long.”

X: “He has become so hard. Going to have so much fun today. She looks nice, na? No wonder he likes her.”

X was by now rolling his hand over his privates and laughing as he lightly humped.

I don’t need to elaborate further for you to understand the actions his hands were engrossed in for the next five minutes of the ride. It was disgusting, to say the least. But the worst part? I could feel his eyes on me. I felt his cheap gaze explore every inch of my clothing and body and I wasn’t okay with it. I wasn’t fine with being stripped in his eyes and imagination. I wasn’t fine with his laugh as though it was his birthright to do this. I wasn’t okay with him exchanging a high-five with his friend over the success of his description of him being ‘hard’.

I stopped the e-rick, gave him a look of pure disgust and walked off. I didn’t utter a word. What could I have said? Would words have made a difference? Moreover, I just wanted to get out of his presence. I came back to my room and after I finished narrating the incident to a friend, he asked me a question that led me to write this: “But he didn’t do anything, na?”

What constitutes as doing something in our society? Rape has become a ‘normal’ everyday headline that we refuse to see the small signs that mildly flash themselves clearly exposing the mentality of people like him. Our benchmark for intolerable behavior has been set so high that we brush off ‘small’ incidents like these. After all, nothing really happened right? It was a few words and he didn’t touch me. So, why make a big deal out of nothing?

That above paragraph is exactly what I am guilty of. I am guilty of letting it go. I am guilty of not finding it a big deal. I am guilty of not being affected by it because I have seen worse. I am guilty of not telling him it’s not okay. But worse, I am guilty of not feeling too much about it. I am guilty of not finding it horribly unacceptable because I kept comparing it to worse incidents.

And I am not in this alone. This is one of the million stories that happen every day in India. In 2014, over three lakh women were kidnapped, raped, molested — and in some extreme cases, killed — across the country. That’s almost a 27% increase since 2012. Take a pause and let that number sink in. And those digits don’t include incidents like mine.

Those figures should make you feel guilty. It doesn’t matter what gender you identify with. Each one of us has either known someone who has experienced these scenarios or been in one ourselves.

We are all guilty – of letting it go, of not finding it or making it a big deal, of not being affected by it and of not saying it’s not okay.

I am guilty of silently letting this continue.

Image for representation only. Source: Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
You must be to comment.

More from Vaishnavi Pavithran Alokkan

Similar Posts

By Samaira Guleria

By Jeet


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