It has happened to each one of us.
I have been reading a lot of blog entries by women who have faced some form of eve-teasing in Delhi so I decided to document the three incidents out of many that won’t get out of my mind. But the point here is not that I was hurt but the fact that I hit back.
Location - A waterpark around Delhi
My parents decided to stay out of the wave pool and rest on the pool chairs while my sister (then 12 yrs old) and I decided to venture into the wave pool by ourselves. I am a good swimmer and wanted to go closer to the waves because for me that is where the actual fun is. Unfortunately that area was also dog marked by a group of guys, hooting and having their 'type of fun.' I presumed none of them knew how to swim given that they weren’t really moving from the place. All women stuck to the fringes, where the wave basically dies. Without stopping to think I jumped right in totally unaware on what lay ahead.
I told my sister to stay where she was. After 2 odd minutes, I found myself surrounded by the gang, all pretending to learn how to swim while grabbing at me. One of them actually pretended that he was drowning and held on to me to support him. I felt really weird for once, but still gave him the benefit of doubt. (This also happened to be my first mistake!)
I relocated and went to the other side. Moments later, the same guy who was initially 'drowning' now swam across to my new location and tried to grab me. The only thing he didn't really expect was that I would be warned by my sister (as she was a spectator all this while) and I would turn right in time (this time it was definitely my turn to give back) to lift my knee and hit him where it hurt, YES I did that and enjoyed the 'Ouch' look on his face. His friends laughed from the other end while I gave him a mouthful.
The life guard heard me and asked them to vacate the pool. Victory. Women now started to come to the wave pool deep end. I told my sister to hit right back. Our parents reached the spot and soon enough heard the entire story from my sister.
The next day we were both enrolled into Karate classes.
Location : Sarojini Nagar, a day out shopping.
We all love Sarojini Nagar, (for the non- Delhiites it’s the perfect place for college shopping.) As I walked towards the main market with a few friends a lecherous group of guys scream –The spoke lewd filth that my older friend understood. I was still wondering what the dialogues meant nonetheless we started to walk briskly. We dismissed the incident (something I now strongly recommend you shouldn’t) and continued our shopping. On the way back the same bunch of guys were waiting at the exact same spot where we left them. 'Aaja na, jannat dikha ja' - he said again. My friend retorted - 'Kaat dungi toh jahannum pahunchega' and we left the spot with just those words that I’m sure neither of us can forget. To give you a perspective, this was easily 6 years back and the words and the face still embedded in my mind as if it was yesterday.
I reached home safe and sound but none of what happened got discussed.
Location: In the train en route to New Delhi, India
Stuffed on two tier berths in the Rajdhani Express my sister and I wanted the seats above, while our parents occupied the seats below. We had just finished with dinner so my sister and I stayed up. We decided not to sleep but instead indulge in some play and talk, we felt safe considering our parents were just below.
Later as we all got ready for bed, I was stepping up to get on to my berth when a man from the next berth walked past, intentionally banging into me. I shot him an annoyed look him and he returned a helpless look. Considering the corridors were narrow I chose to overlook the incident. As I set the bedding I saw him return to his place Again instead of sleeping I decided to go get the uno from the side pocket of the bag below, since I didn’t want to wake my parents up so went down and got it. No points for guessing what happened next - took one step on those rails up and this man got up again, this time he was physical. I was so humiliated and angry that I jumped off the second 'step' hurt my foot and held his hand and started to scream at him. The chaos woke my parents and the other passengers. At first my father was amazed that his daughter had abused but on knowing the whole story being an army-man himself he didn’t say another word. My dad all of 6 feet 2 inches held the the guy who was barely reaching his shoulders. We called the TT and got him relocated and slept peacefully.
So why I am I sharing all this with you. Simple. In India, the problem with most women is the inability to share their problem in the open. This is not something you can afford to shy away from. Once you get into the habit of ignoring these filthy abusers you will be paying a heavy price. It is your integrity at stake. Fight back, don't cower down.
Eve- teasing is not a new phenomenon. We now need to ensure that this practice is put to an end. Let us not depend on anyone to take care of us. Speak up and fight for yourself and I am sure there will always be someone good out there who will support you. Lets pledge not act like 'ablaa nari's' anymore, let's make ourselves heard. Have faith in humanity and fight for your rights! Join a self defence class, eat chowmein and don't be afraid or ashamed of being a woman. I still say only one thing lets not lose faith, there are still good people out there who do care and respect women, lets try to increase the number of those people by spreading more awareness.
@niharikamidha on Twitter
@niharikamidha on Twitter
The author is a Medical Devices analyst addicted to reading the news. She has completed her Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College London. She aspires to be the President of India someday and believes in A.P.J abdul Kalam's words: Small aim is a crime!