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I’m 19 And No! I’m Not A Whore

If it was a winter evening, it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t my fault that the sun sets early, or that the moonlight refused to shine, but when patriarchy and its notions slap you right back, you do need to consider the fact that even if it was a new moon night, it was my fault because I decided to walk out of my house and stay out until it was past eight o’clock.

It was a sluggish evening with winter at its peak. It was my fault that I was born at the peak of January and like a fool, I believed it would be okay to celebrate the fact of turning 19 when I was told it was not. Not after the set time limits of being out.

It is usual to stay on the Delhi streets and party your life away. It is surely usual but for a guy. For a girl, it’s a matter of her character coming into question – and that too, by another woman first – because she’s programmed to think about how the society might perceive her daughter. But that day, it was okay for my mother too, for it was my birthday, and I was allowed to be me for a change.

I had just ended my party and was out to see off my friends. I wasn’t really away from home, probably just ten minutes away. As I walked out of the restaurant and towards the main road to hail myself an auto, I realised that I was way too decked up to walk on that road alone. There was this instant fear of being judged which clutched my throat – like every passing eye was noticing me like a hawk on its prey.

I sped up my pace to the red light where the traffic stopped and waited for an empty auto to pass by when a red coloured Creta stopped right in front of me. I didn’t notice it in the bid to hail an auto and get home by my 9 pm deadline. Yet, sexism can probably never leave a girl’s side.

“Excuse me?” I heard someone calling out. I didn’t hear it until the third time. When I finally did, I realised a man in his mid-40s was sitting right in the driver’s seat of the car which had stopped right in front of me.

I decided to ignore, when the next thing which came my way was, “May I help you?”

I wondered to myself if the man was genuine or not. The red light refused to change green until the next 140 seconds but those 140 seconds were enough to make me realise that a few stereotypes will never leave my side. From being offered a place in his car, to a place in his bed, things changed drastically in a span of 140 seconds. I couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t. For a 19-year-old, something like this was too much to digest, too much to face. I felt like it was my fault that he considered me to be someone I could never imagine myself to be, not because it was derogatory a task to do, but a trade of flesh and the mindset of considering every woman as an object sold in the market was something demeaning.

But, as I sat in the auto, I came to realise, I wasn’t at fault, he was. His mindset, his ideology of assigning gender roles and treating women as an object of pleasure, that was something which was at fault. I couldn’t stand up at that moment, for at that time my senses went for a toss. I hadn’t experienced something as filthy as this before. I hadn’t seen myself through the eyes of a man who was lusting after my body.

For me, moments froze and the people around turned non-existent, but today, as I open up for the first time about this incident, I’d like to say to that man and the millions like him, every woman on the street past sunset isn’t a whore, every woman standing alone by the side of the road isn’t a whore. I am 19 and no! I’m not a whore.