I am a law student, at NALSAR University in Hyderabad. This is not the first time I have been sexually harassed and I know that the kind of world that I live in, this won’t be my last either. What I know is that I will stand up for myself every time someone tries to do this – I will stand up for other people who face this, especially something like this which happens quite often.
Today, I boarded a bus to Jubilee Bus Stand from Shamirpet. The compartment which was reserved for women was extremely full and the only safe space was near the door which separated the ladies’ compartment from the general compartment. I was travelling with two other friends and my female friend had a lot of luggage since she was going home. There were around six ladies sitting near us in the general compartment, two of them had babies.
Now, the conductor came and told my friend and me to shift to the ladies’ compartment (which had absolutely no space) and leave the “gent’s compartment”. I told him extremely coldly that it was a general compartment and not a gent’s compartment. Also, around six ladies were already sitting there surrounding us. He spoke to me extremely rudely after that, sold us the tickets and left.
After that, while going from the general compartment to the ladies’ compartment, he touched me inappropriately twice. It was very deliberate as there was a lot of space to go without having the need to touch me. Initially, I let it go, but my friend confirmed that he did the same with her.
I then realised that it was his way of showing dominance. That he was a man and we were girls and therefore, we were being touched that way because we chose to stay in the general compartment. I grew furious and asked my male friend to ask his name. On being asked, the conductor replied very rudely: “Who are you, my supervisor?” My male friend got extremely angry and he screamed at him. He asked him for his ID card but he didn’t have one.
Then, he started arguing with my friend and me. My friend asked about the other six ladies who had been sitting there. To which the conductor replied- “They are old.” And I lost my cool at that. I screamed at him and told him I would complain. He said: “Go ahead and do it. Who are you?” My male friend told him that his behaviour was unacceptable and our complaint could get him fired from his job. He had no fear whatsoever. And while we were getting down from the bus, he threatened my friend and me yet again.
Another thing I found extremely problematic was when I was told I couldn’t be in the general compartment because I was not “old” like the other ladies. Keeping aside the fact that women of all ages can be assaulted, do these people really think putting young women like us in the ladies’ compartment is going to make us safe when the person who actually harassed us was the conductor himself who has access to the entire bus?
This post is to make people aware of the sort of troubles we face on an everyday basis – we are told that since we are young, we cannot sit in the general compartment even if there are seats and the ladies’ compartment is packed. We are told to remember our places because these people know that they will get away with doing all this.
This is also to say thank you to my friends who stood up to that disgusting man when I fought with him and to tell them that I love them and that today by standing up for me, they’ve stood up for a lot of other girls who have gone through this and who will probably go through it in future.