What does one expect when visiting a water park? A fun filled day splashing around in the water with your friends? If you’re a woman, then concern about what kind of costume you should wear crosses your mind. You make sure you wear something ‘decent’ and modest that won’t attract unwanted attention, given the kind of crowd that frequents water parks. Once this is taken care of, you may believe that you have tackled the problem and that you will be safe as you are being accompanied by a guy friend. You then focus on having a good time and making the most of the time and money invested in making this plan.
So it was for me. We had an amazing time going from one ride to another, enjoying each one more than the last. Yes, there were minor inconveniences due to the growing crowd and the heat. The paving was poorly designed and literally burned my feet as I moved around. But I overlooked these, being determined to just have fun and not crib about ‘little’ things like blisters under my feet. Finally exhausted, we decided to laze around in the wave pool and enjoy the waves. Unfortunately, as soon as the timer signalled that the waves were about to begin, the pool got jam-packed. So much so that we were literally shoulder to shoulder with other people while the waves threw us around in different directions.
My friend asked me to stay close as there were too many guys in close proximity, and someone might take advantage of the waves sweeping us off balance. I laughed at his concern – everybody was there to have fun, so why would anybody do anything like that, that too in broad daylight? I got my answer within minutes when I felt a hand groping my bottom.
Quickly turning around, I saw a sorry looking girl who was trying hard to keep her head above water and might have bumped into me by mistake. Considering it a genuine mistake, I let it go. To my surprise, a few minutes later it happened again. I got really pissed this time and turned abruptly to get another apologetic look from the girl trying to steady herself in the waves. I got really confused – even if she did bump into me, how would her hand reach my bottom and pinch me like that?
My friend suggested that we leave. But being unsure about what really happened, I convinced myself that I was overthinking and decided to stay for a while. We moved to a different spot that was slightly less crowded and tried to forget what had happened – until it happened again. Yes, a third time – and it was definitely deliberate groping and pinching. I shouted out in exasperation. It happened so quickly and there were so many people around that it was impossible to tell who did it. Somebody was actually planning it. They were waiting for other people to bump into me, so they could take advantage of the situation.
It was so infuriating to not be able to do anything about it. We felt so helpless that we left immediately. There was no point putting the blame on the authorities as there was no way they could have prevented it. So we left with this disturbing memory in our minds, all the fun we had had forgotten.
It is heartbreaking that a girl can’t even have fun without being stared at or groped, in this country. No matter how careful you are, no matter how many precautions you take, no matter what you wear, no matter who you are with, no matter what time of the day it is, you are UNSAFE.