Since the country is swept by the Me Too wave, I feel encouraged to narrate my #MeToo moment.
I was 17 when it happened. It was my first semester at Delhi University. Everything was new and amazing and DUSU elections are a crazy time, so naturally, I was excited. A day before the elections, we planned to go for a movie. It was a big group of 10-15 people and as we all were new it was a time of budding friendships. I knew most of the people in that group but none of them were actually close to me, except a guy who I had recently started commuting with and I was comfortable with him. Although he was a self-declared playboy (read molester), I couldn’t care less since I knew him. So when he asked me to sit next to him, I didn’t hesitate.
With the movie, began the ordeal. He inclined towards me as soon as the lights were dimmed, making me feel uncomfortable. Suddenly he started touching my breasts and kissing me. He then slid his hands inside my t-shirt. By that time, I was in complete shock. I was numb and couldn’t speak up. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. It was my first sexual encounter and I was completely clueless about how to deal with it. I was feeling embarrassed and ashamed to speak up, thinking that I will be mocked if I get up in the middle of the movie. So, I sat there letting him play with my body. And, he continued moving his hands down into my jeans. I let out a feeble ‘NO’ but I was not sure if even I heard my voice. I pretended to act normal and watch the screen, trying my best to hide from my classmates sitting next to us. Little did I know that they were part of it, that there was no man sitting there who could even dare to stop the show. I was shivering inside and just wanted to get over with this. I sat there, ignoring his act, lewd comments and praying that it stops soon. But it didn’t, he took my hand and asked me to feel him getting hard. This was the last blow, I pulled my hand and finally asked him to stop. Luckily, it was interval time and I zipped up and left to sit with the other girls.
He later complained that I ruined his fun by not letting him finish post interval. I came out from that movie hall with a high fever that went on for next one week and later on for two months. I did not tell my parents since I came from an orthodox family where girls weren’t allowed to talk to boys, so if something happens, it’s on the girl (Yes, it happened in the 21st Century only).
After this incident, I found out that during his drunken conversations he boasted about what he did to me. Possibly every guy from my class knew about this. Yet, I did nothing. Although I told a few of my friends, no one encouraged me to act upon it. I became the subject of mockery for a few people. Still, I pretended as if nothing happened and graduated without acknowledging the fact that my friend sexually harassed me. I, once, confronted him when the realisation dawn upon me. He responded that I never said No and I was enjoying it too. I was speechless. All this time I kept thinking it was my fault that I did not stop him. This incident left a scar on my soul which I never tended to. How do I know? Because even after living in denial all this time, I cried in real for the first time thinking about it.
But whose fault was it? Why did I not stop him?
I shared my story to throw light on a few subjects that are frowned upon in our country and culture.
First is sex education. I was never taught in my life what is sexual harassment neither by my family nor school. Whatever sexual knowledge I gained, it was through watching porn, which is unarguably the worst mode of sex education for any kid. I did not know the austerity of my own body, I did not know what is wrong or right and neither did I know that I have a right to stop someone. Some will say it is common sense. Maybe I lacked it, but I could have been made aware of it by educating me. Instead, I learned it the hard way and understanding of the ‘worth’ of my own body came even years later. Every child should be given sex education from a young age, especially when we live among sexual predators and paedophiles. So parents, if you shy away from teaching your kid, the world will teach them and not in a good way. Teach them not to be ashamed of it but to raise the alarm and fight it off and most importantly, listen to them.
Second is consent. Surely, nowadays there’s a lot of debate on ‘consent’ but how many of us understand it. I came across a few sexual encounters where the man could not comprehend that just because the woman is not saying ‘no’, or not doesn’t mean she is ready. Not true. Sometimes, a woman might not be able to know how to react. So, please make sure she is comfortable before doing anything if you don’t want to scar her soul. Surely, such men are not intentionally assaulting women, but men need to be taught the real meaning of consent. It’s not just limited to plain YES or NO. It means to comprehend that she is in a state of understanding what she is doing and she is comfortable.