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

I Stopped A Man From Harassing A Young Boy On A Bus, Because It’s Happened To Me Too

By Samira Kidman

Illustrations by Debasmita Dasgupta

I am sitting on a bus next to the aisle, watching people inside and outside. The weather is lovely. My new sunglasses are on.

My ride is quite long and in a while, I see this 14-year-old boy coming in and standing in front of me. Next, I see a 50-year-old man doing the same, but standing right behind the boy so close that the young one has to physically resist. The old man stretches both hands to the grab handles above, locking the way out for the boy. Now, being a kid, he tries to move a bit, gets nervous, sweats, sighs, rolls his eyes. Nothing works – the old man does not react and ignores the kid’s body language. Seeing that, I turn my face to the boy and as if he is with me, I say (very strict): “Come, stand next to me.”

The man looks at me but the only thing he sees is his reflection in my big new black sunglasses.

He unlocks his hands and the boy is able to move to my side. I can see the relief on his face. There is someone on his side on the bus. He is not alone.

Unfortunately, I know exactly what the boy is feeling at this very moment. Fifteen years ago (plus or minus), a drunk man who was sitting next to me started slowly putting his hand on my knee and obviously was not thinking of stopping there. It was a summer day. I had a window seat, hoping to get some wind on my ride back home from school. Sun was burning my skin through the bus window. It was so hot I had to keep my hand up to cover my eyes from harsh rays. In old days, we had no AC buses, so my red face started sweating immediately. I was wearing a black skirt that ended slightly above my knees and a t-shirt. When this man sat next to me, I smelled alcohol and turned my face away towards the window. In some time, I noticed he had kept his hand between me and him on the seat. Then he touched my knee. I looked at him but he was looking towards the opposite side. I was too shy and embarrassed to even ask him to move it away. I started breathing heavily and didn’t know how to react. I moved my knee a bit away, but he used this movement to slide his hand a little higher. The whole world seemed to be one big burning hell. I desperately started looking at people for help. But no one seemed to be bothered by him as much as by the heat.

When I looked at him our eyes met and I saw how high he was. His half-closed eyes were looking through me. The only thing I could say was: “Please, take your hand off.” I remember the reply that came out of his mouth along with the smell of alcohol: “Alrighty.”

But it wasn’t going to be alright ever, was it? Can a broken mirror be put together again? I was shivering despite the heat, petrified that he might follow me till my flat. The burning anxiety of the incident stayed with me like a cold volcano waiting for the next crack to form.

Now, with this scene in my head, I lean towards the boy: “Someday, some man, most likely woman, will need your help more than you needed help today. You understand?” He nods.

It was one bus in one city in one country. Think about all the hotel rooms, offices, malls, streets, building blocks and so many other places all over the world where similar things might be happening at this very moment. You know why? Because molesters know that they won’t be punished. Because they know that no one will delay her/his walk to office or school to report him. And if it happens in your family, what shall you do? Will they believe you? Or will it be buried under the heaviness of family ties?

You think the old man who got down from my bus didn’t take another one?

This year was crucial for so many women who came out and told their #metoo stories. It has turned big industries like filmmaking and television upside down. Many men of different professions stood along with us despite knowing it might harm their own interests. The more we hear people speaking or standing by us, whatever their gender, the more we get the courage to speak ourselves.

And sometimes it is a simple thing that’s needed for us to do one by one – to do for someone else, what you wish someone could have done for you.

Samira Kidman is an Azerbaijani film editor who studied at FTII. She is based both in Mumbai and Baku.

You must be to comment.

More from AgentsofIshq

Similar Posts

By Abha Thapliyal

By Missing Link Trust

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        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