I would have been around 10 yrs old when I was groped in a bus for the first time. I still remember how he was rubbing his foot against mine. I kept trying to move towards the front part of the bus, but in the packed bus how much can you move? And then his hands groped my breasts. Breasts? Remember, I was ten then, there were no breasts. But he was moving his hands over my chest. I shoved him with my elbow at least 10 times by the time I reached my Bus stop. This was in Kannur, Kerala.
Many such incidents kept happening in the bus during my school and college days. I started arming myself with a safety pin. Whenever a stray arm groped me, my pin made a hole in those arms.
Once, I was traveling back from my office, in Bangalore. I was sitting on the aisle seat next to a lady. All ladies were seated and few men were standing in the bus. Though the bus was not crowded, the standing men were crowding towards the front part of the bus towards the ladies’ seats. A middle aged man positioned himself next to me and started rubbing his thing against my shoulder. At first I thought he was accidentally falling as the bus was jolting through the Bangalore roads. But after it repeated I realized he was doing it intentionally. I moved a little front and pressed myself to the lady sitting next to me. But he too moved and repeated, I moved again. The lady sensed something was wrong and looked up. She squeezed herself to allow me to shift little more. But again he continued. I looked up many times to scold him. I called out to him to stop. But he was busy looking out. Not even once he looked at me. All the time I stared at him, he was looking out and just the second I moved my eyes, he was back rubbing. I knew people around could see it but no one reacted, not even the lady next to me. I finally stood up, stamped hard on his foot and got out in the next bus stop (3 bus stops ahead of my destination) and walked the remaining distance.
Another time, I was standing just next to the bus door .The bus was crowded. No way I could go in side the bus. A lad, about 16 yrs old, got into the bus from a stop and stood on the steps. The bus was moving; Suddenly he grabbed my breasts and before I could react he was off the bus (the running bus!) and ran away into the dark. I was left staring at him, tears filling my eyes. I sensed people looking at me, no one reacted, no one even calmed me down or enquired if I was OK. Once I got down and started walking towards my home I broke down crying. I called my best friend and told her what happened and she comforted me while I cried away. I felt so terrible.
To this day I haven’t told these incidents to anyone at home. Why? Because I knew telling them would only worry them and the result would be restrictions on me. They would not be able to do anything to those men, but I would not be allowed to go out. I know it is out of love and they are anxious about my safety. But I have suffered and then I am punished again?
And now why am I telling all this publicly? The Delhi rape incident has raged me. I do not want to give examples of any XYZ who has been molested or raped and which the media has celebrated. I do not want to show any of the statistics. I wanted to share few of the incidents that happened to me and that happens to a common girl/woman, every day, in any part of the world, which goes unnoticed, un-reported.
Why none, including myself, reacted in the above cases? We try to avoid getting molested but never react against it. We move away, run away, hide but do not voice against this. That’s what the society teaches us girls, avoid the circumstances where you get molested but never react when being molested. That’s what unfortunately my parents, with all their love, expect me to do. That what the society ask us to do, our politicians ask us to do, the police asks us to do, women welfare organizations in India ask us to do.
“What if you react and then they come to take revenge with knives and acid bottles? We neither have the strength or money to deal with them. We are common middle class people” says a middle class mom. Mr. PM and Mr. HM , do you really think your three daughters are in the same danger as the daughters of a common man?
The first incident, I was in school uniform and it was around 8.00 am in a public bus. I wasn’t wearing bikini, didn’t have any assets then to expose, it wasn’t midnight and it wasn’t an empty bus with tinted glass. Both the Bangalore incidents, happened around 07.00 pm. First time it was an almost empty bus and the second time a heavily packed bus. I was wearing Salwar Kameez.
So tell me Mr. Neta what I should have done to avoid getting molested? I should have stopped going to school? I should have quit the 9.00 to 6.00 job? I should have born a Burqa and hid in my home. Do you dare say that I asked for it? At least I can say I would be safe at home, unlike my less fortunate sisters , for which I have no words to say.
I see the protests in Delhi. I am happy, at least now, there is a reaction. But I do have a question too. Does the rape has to be so gruesome to gain the attention of the public, to make them react?
Kya yeh sab Teek Hai ?