TW: Sexual Harassment
Historically, women have struggled against the patriarchal society to achieve what they wanted to. With modernisation, and with the evolution of innovative technologies, the societal structure has changed. Some people believe in reformation now, and women are given more autonomy than before. However, oppression still persists.
Recently, I was travelling in a public bus. I was nearing my destination when suddenly a middle-aged man grabbed my bosom with the excuse of falling down as the bus came to a halt. He got down from the bus along with me at the same stop. When countered, he said that I was like his daughter and, because of this, he couldn’t even imagine harassing me.
I was really angry with him though he constantly argued that he had no such intentions. After that, he quickly hurried in his own direction. I remained silent after that out of fear. I was afraid of raising my voice against him. What if I raised my voice and he followed me afterwards to my home or to my college, I wondered. What if he tries to throw acid on my face and sexually harasses me again? I couldn’t sleep properly that night. Every time I tried to sleep, the thought of somebody touching me inappropriately, traumatised me, and I started crying.
I feel that women outside the house or women inside the house can never be safe. I have heard stories from my friends that someone from their family has been misogynistic towards them. Some have shared their childhood trauma of being sexually harassed by a family member, and when reported to the elders of the family, they chose to remain silent and questioned my friend instead. Many were told not to speak ‘non-sense’ about an elderly person.
Some said they were told to make a ‘compromise’ with it. The fear and the trauma one goes through leads to further mental health problems which hinder their growth and development.
Whenever we women go out we always walk, talk, sit, eat and do everyday activities with the fear that somebody is looking at my private parts or staring at my body. Did I do anything wrong with any man that he dares to throw acid on me or rape me on an empty road at night? Such thoughts hover over our heads all the time.
This women’s day, I would like to tell everyone who will read this write up, that the fairy tales of growth and development of a country’s economy will never be achieved if you discard us, women. It depends on the progress of all living in that economy. If women are kept under veil all the times, if we are not safe, then the percentage of growth which could have been achieved will never be achieved.
Women are not the ‘weaker’ sex of the society but this notion is created to oppress women. I strongly feel that men dare to do such crimes in public spaces or at homes because they have seen their fathers play the dominant role in their house, which the son imitates and applies it to other women, trying to play the dominant role of the society. When they see women achieving something great, they cannot bear it and consequently, sexually harass them to show them where they ‘belong’ and where they should be in society.
Sometimes I feel like fleeing this country where I was born and move to a safer country, but then again news crops up that no place in the world is safer for women. Is it so? Why aren’t there any strict laws and regulations to stop such crimes? Why isn’t the government taking enough initiative to eradicate this oppression? Why aren’t there any modules in each school on gender sensitisation? How long will we be oppressed?
I wish, as a woman, we are seen as a human being with natural human feelings like every other human being. Will this remain a dream for a better place or will it actually happen in the near future? Sometimes I feel that I will die with this fear and trauma, without getting the proper rights and benefits that I should have got as a human being.