Being a woman, I get stares, catcalls and groped at almost on a daily basis.
However, my Dad always taught me since a very young age that if a man were to ever inappropriately touch me, I shouldn’t stay silent about it.
As a result, I’ve faced some ugly circumstances and situations most people would like to avoid being in.
I remember two particular incidents that are still fresh in my mind though:
1. When I was 14, I was walking home from school when a well-dressed man who looked like he was in his early 20s was coming towards me.
I was lost in my own thoughts as I walked, and as our paths crossed, he reached out and groped my breasts.
The moment this happened, I was confused for a second and stood frozen to the ground, not knowing how to react.
I wheeled back, only to see the guy walking away casually, snickering. He didn’t even run, because he assumed I wouldn’t do much.
I threw my only weapon at him — a 500 ml nearly-empty plastic water bottle — aiming straight for his head.
My aim being so excellent, it went a few metres past his head, and he ended up tripping on the bottle and stumbling to the ground.
I ran up to him, landed a few good kicks to his groin and then screamed, calling for help.
Some people stopped their cars and asked me if I was alright.
Some landed punches on him, verbally abused him, and even offered him advice. He ended up in tears and eventually apologized to me. People talked me out of filing a police report against him because they said it would be a hassling affair. I believed them and moved on.
I walked away, feeling relieved. At least one less pervert in the world!
2. I was 21, and at a water park.
I was with a bunch of friends in the wave pool where there were throngs of people.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt a hand on my butt. I looked back and saw a bunch of guys, so I thought the brush was accidental (you tend to drift and move around a lot in a wave pool).
But it happened again, and when I looked, I saw the same bunch of guys behind me.
The third time, and this time was a solid grope, I caught the hand on my body, and turned to see it was one of the guys from the group.
I yelled at the guy and didn’t let go of him. I slapped him thrice and yelled the crap out of him.
He yelled back saying that he was innocent and that I was making it up, and started to verbally abuse me. This enraged me further and I dragged him out of the pool.
I have to stress the fact that he was a big, bulky guy, all of 6 feet and I was far tinier in comparison to him.
But the thing about me is that I get abnormal strength whenever I am furious. Sometimes, I imagine I could turn into the Hulk, minus the green part (sorry for this random statement, but I do find it to be true because it happens often with me).
So I somehow managed to single-handedly drag this macho out of the water, and his friends followed, calling me names like “bitch!” and “slut” (apparently because I was wearing shorts).
I reported the guy to the guards, who told me to calm down.
The hell I was going to calm down! I told them that either they should call the police or I will. Now the management steps in saying that it was an honest mistake and that boys will be boys.
I was told how the park’s reputation will suffer if I got the police involved and some even advised I shouldn’t wear shorts in a public place.
I lost my mind and yelled at the managers.
Soon, there was a big crowd around me, blaming me for what happened to me, and nodding in consensus to what the managers were saying.
Undeterred, I called the police (you just need to dial 100 if you’re in India, by the way).
After a 20-minute wait, they turned up.
They asked me to give them a written complaint. Everyone around told me that this was a big mistake and I should not ruin the future of the young boy.
I figured that if he didn’t want to get reported, he shouldn’t be groping women in the first place.
I submitted a written complaint, describing the incident and had to share my contact details as well.
The police whisked the boy away, and his friends followed.
One of the officers told me that he would be in overnight, and that if I wanted him to go to prison for even teasing (which was a six-month sentence), I’d have to wait and push it to court.
I decided against the court trial and thought that a night of being in prison would knock some sense into him.
I have to mention that I was called all sorts of names by everyone that gathered because I went to the police about what happened to me and ensured that he was punished.
I had only one friend who stood with me when all of this happened.
I returned to my group of friends who looked sort of mad at me for turning our fun outing experience to a sour one.
A friend even advised me I should have tried to talk to the guy calmly about what he did.
Everywhere I went, people looked at me like something was wrong with me.
Thankfully, I’ve become thick skinned enough to not care about what people think or say about me anymore.
But when I look back at this incident, I realized how much venom was spewed at me all because I stood up for myself.
I’m always going to stand up for myself, no matter what, and for others when required.
I’m not saying I’m brave for doing so, I just care a little lesser, that’s all.
And NO, I do not hate men or anything like that. But harassing women is a very serious and common thing, particularly in India.
Please try to understand this from a woman’s perspective before typing comments of me being sexist or of “trying to damage the reputation of Indian men.”