‘It’s 9.42 PM And I Am Afraid To Go Outside’

Posted by medha nidhi in My Story
January 6, 2017
Editor’s note: This story is in response to Youth Ki Awaaz’s topic for this week – #UnsafeInMyCity. It highlights how safety is a concern for all of us, living in different parts of this country. If you have an experience to share, write to us here.

Right now, I am sitting in front of my computer writing this. Two minutes ago I was looking for knives and pepper spray online. Seven minutes ago I was watching a video about the types of knives available. Thirteen minutes ago, I was watching a video on how one could defend themselves with a knife. Half an hour ago, I was eating a sandwich.

An hour ago, I was looking online for the safest places for women in the world. Iceland ranked first, according to the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap report (2016). Iceland was followed by Finland and Norway and Sweden. India stood 87th.

Two hours ago, I came home from college, and the news was on. The news showed a video of someone being harassed in my city. It was the video of a man and his friend stalking a girl on their vehicle. They stopped the two-wheeler, the pillion rider got off. He approached the girl and grabbed her. It was too far away to clearly see what he was doing to that girl, but it was clear that she was struggling. The man’s friend on the bike watched as the girl was dragged towards the bike. The pillion then got on the bike, and they rode away, the girl was thrown to the ground.

Two hours and fifteen minutes ago, I was walking home from the bus stop. I held my phone to my ear, pretending to speak to someone. Four men passed by me. They didn’t notice that I had noticed them noticing me.

Five hours ago, my friends and I were expressing our horror and disgust at what happened in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve. Were people right when they said, “Don’t wear short clothes”? Were clothes the problem here? Would incidents of molestation decrease if women wore “decent” clothes? If so, then what is “decent”? How are we to interpret this vague term that could mean different things to different people? Why weren’t men who wore shorts getting harassed? Or were they? Did men get molested too that night?

Six hours ago, I sat in a class listening to the teacher talk about how our government was doomed, and we were all doomed and were doing nothing about it. About how it was up to us, the “privileged” lot to do something. To start a revolution.

Ten hours ago, I sat on a crowded bus reading a book. A person stood next to me, too close.

A week ago, I was walking in Commercial Street and the people who passed came too close. I walked with my bag as a shield and my elbows up. It wasn’t very effective.

Two weeks ago, I sat with my brother, cousins and their friends. There was alcohol on the table. It was 3 am. I wore shorts. I was laughing. I wasn’t paranoid.

Two months ago, I went to the Pride Parade. There were thousands and thousands of people. I wasn’t groped. I wasn’t paranoid. I had fun. A year ago, I went to lunch with friends. We ate lunch, and that was that.

Seven years ago, I played with all the boys in my class. A violent version of running and catching. They would pull my hair; I would scratch them. It was fun.

Right now, I sit in front of this computer. It’s 9:42 pm and I’m afraid to go outside.


Image source: Stef Lewandowski/Flickr