Life's Like That

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"She asked for it..."

I'm angry!

I was groped by a man last evening. Near New Indian Express junction. He rode up on a scooter as I was waiting to cross the road and very casually touched me and also whispered something that started with "Hi Sweety..." and then trailed off, I didn't hear the rest. He rode away, stood a little distance off, smiling at me and making lewd gestures.

But I'm angry because all of this happened in plain view of the traffic cop who merely looked away. I'm angry with the attitude of the people around me. But more than anything else Im furious with myself because I still didnt go upto him and slap his face. Im angry because I didnt slap the bloody cop! Im furious I did't slap those people aroudn me!

There were at least 3-4 people standing with me, waiting to cross, all of whom saw what just happened. The women pretended they hadn't noticed and looked away while the young guys seemed to find it funny.They giggled and looked at me and looked at the man (standing a little further down the road pointing out the location of his crotch to me) and giggled again...they also said something which I didn't understand since it was in Kannada. Bloody hell!! I should have slapped them as well. All I did was to push the guy away, and though he did seem to lose balance and twist his ankle I don't think I did him much bodily harm (although I hope he broke at least one bone).

If this seems like too a mild a situation for public protest, let me tell you about my first experience with Mumbai locals, where both the provocation as well as the reaction was worse.

We had gone for the TISS entrance exam (2001), our first visit there. After the exam we took the local from Govandi to Churchgate for some shopping etc..since we were a mixed group (and anyways, noone told us the concept of ladies compartments and general compartments), we sat in the general, and since it was at 3 in the afternoon it was uncrowded and comfortable. On our way back from Churchgate we did the same thing. Only, this time it was around 7 o'clock in the evening. We managed to squeeze into the 2nd class general compartment, 3 of us in 3 different corners thanks to the crowd. I was pinned against the wall. After about 5 mins I realized that the guy in front of me was pressing into me. And I mean PRESSING into me. I could feel his penis against me. His face was centimetres away from mine, he was breathing fast and hard. I tried inching away from him, but the crowd did not permit that. I didnt think turning my back to him was a) possible or b) advisable.

Being used to Calcutta Metro and buses (though I believe these days people arent very helpful in Cal either ) I spoke up. I told him to move away from me, since, inspite of the crowd there was no reason for him to be standing on top of me or touching me unnecessarily or pinning me to the wall. He looked at me and belligerently replied " Itna comfort chaihye toh AC taxi mein travel kijiye. Local train mein aisa hi hota hain. Aur waise bhi, hum kya kar rahein hain aapko?" and pushed into me some more. The people around me smiled in agreement. They tittered and laughed. They commented on how some women just ask for it, how if we expect special treatment we should travel in the womens compartments (I have never ever stepped into a general compartment in a Mumbai local ever again) and even how if we expected to be treated with respect we should dress decently ( my sin: a sleeveless kurta). Others looked away not wanting to get involved. All the while the man continued to push into me, his breathing got faster and deeper and he started saying something too (my brain had kind of stopped functioning by then, what he was saying didnt register).

A and G were in the far ends of the compartment and there was not much they could have done anyways. After what seemed like an eternity, he disembarked. The titters, the comments, the snide laughter however continued till we got off at Govandi. Not one person tried to help in any way. It was obvious we were new to Mumbai (from what little bit of conversation was possible between me and G who was nearest to me) but not one person tried to help, noone offered me their seat just to help me get away from that disgusting man, noone tried to tell him to lay off. No sir. They sympathised with him. I had gotten into a general when there are compartments reserved for women, dressed in sleeveless clothes!! I deserved everything I got.

No, I was not surprised when I read about the girl who was raped in a crowded Mumbai local. She probably deserved it by being in the wrong compartment, wearing the wrong clothes or even by being born female. You see, men,( ok, some men) by virtue of being men, are entitled to teach women who ask for it, a lesson...almost like their duty! I'm not surprised when I read newspaper reports about how people just rush by accident victims without stopping to help. Thats the way the world is.

I should not have been surprised with the reaction of the cop or those people yesterday. I should have been prepared for it.

And thats why I'm furious with myself!! I should have slapped that creep. The I should have slapped that giggling fellow near me and made a HUGE issue with the cop. I should have known that if I didnt help myself, noone else would!

32 Comments:

  • Shune kharap laglo.
    But you are right. You should have slapped the guy.

    About Mumbai locals, I know what you mean. But that's the downside of living in an overcrowded place.
    I'm telling you, the only problem is the population, not public attitude.
    If you have been abroad, you will know that the people there would not do shit to help you either. It's just that you would not find many places as crowded as a Mumbai local. As far as respecting women goes, yes, I would say that's present a little more abroad. Primarily I think due to the fact that they are not brought up in a society overdosed with teaching that tells them that sex is taboo. There are less frustrated people there.

    All said and done, it's up to all of us to protect our own asses - literally.

    By Blogger Soham Pablo, at 4:27 AM  

  • I am so sorry that you had to go through that. At least you were able to push him, and at least you had the courage to protest when that bastard wanker in Bombay was up to his antics, but there is something ingrained in girls since childhood that tells them the proper response to such acts of blatant harrassment is just to silently move on, trying to ignore the abuser. Every time such a thing happens, I just freeze up, and then feel terribly guilty and somehow dirty, as if it was my fault. No logical reasoning, but some conditioning ingrained since childhood, I guess. And though it is certainly one's job to protect one's own self, a culture that looks at women of every age, shape and size as a piece of meat to be fondled and owned, certainly does not make life easier for women. Of course, sometimes there are other women or men who support you when something like this happens and you do protest, but mostly, the whole thing turns into a titillating public entertainment fiasco, where inevitably, the woman is in the wrong, and the man a sort of rogue who is regarded with amused exasperation at most and not a sex-offender.

    By Blogger good morning, midnight, at 4:47 AM  

  • absolutely...you should have. These things need to be nipped in the bud.. and if making a issue is the answer then,by golly (did i type that?), it should be done. men who get their jollies off groping women on streets should should be slapped and taken to the cops...i've heard of a couple of guys in bangalore who know how it feels tho..they were groped and teased by mt.carmel girls it seems...

    By Blogger Abhishek Chatterjee, at 6:50 AM  

  • its not just about being in an overcrowded place - cal buses and trains are worse in terms of crowds - but the reactions of the aam janta is very different. u just have to shout a 'dada ki hochhe' okhaane 'maar maar' hoye jabe. Ron, you should have made a scene. As long as we shut up - for whatever reason, this will happen. bldy hll ya, we should make a fuss. everytime. everywhere. with everyone. otherwise this will never stop. its not a case of here or there. u wont believe it even here in U.K. last week there was a screaming headline in the paper saying just this. Some recent rpe cse ws being discssd and all the men hd said - they must have 'done something to deserve it'.

    By Blogger Prerona, at 7:20 AM  

  • terrible! on one hand i want to tell you to slap the shit out of these people but then there is also associated danger - its really sad. i dunno what to say :)

    By Blogger Sagnik Nandy, at 7:25 PM  

  • Hey, that local train in Bombay in the general compartment at 7 in the evening with men pushing from all sides, n a drunk man puking!! God! it has been abt 5 years and it's still so fresh in my memory... And yes, most men seeem to think that its almost like breaking the law if you travel by the general compartment. And what clothes you wear doesn't matter, its just the gender that does!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 PM  

  • @soham: its not just about overcrowded places, its about the mentality i think. i wouldnt be able to comment about the situation abroad as i have never been abroad, but i think prerona answers that bit very well.

    @gmm: i really liked yoru comment, it expressed whatever i was trying to say so much better. and yeah ur absolutely right, we are always scared of "what if he does something worse if i retaliate?" i did speak up in bombay thinking there would be some support, and the response scared me. i couldnt take the risk of slapping him...what if he did something worse? and the pervert on the road...the push was more instinct than anything else.

    @abhishek: yeah one keeps hearing of mt. carmel girls harrassing boys..have no idea if its true. as for slapping the guy...i was afraid...like i said this fear is something ingrained in us, i dono by who or what...its a pity. and actually the cops are of no use..they smile and say " ok madam next time they wont do..leave him.." there was a cop that day..who saw and looked away!!!

    @prerona: i guess nationality has nothing to do with it...its the male mentality!!!i would have loved to make a scene prero, but what if that guy on the train pushed me off it, what iof the guy on the road did something far worse..NOONE would help me...and im no charlies angel..i doubt if i could have tackled these people on my own. pepper spray is a good idea methinks.

    @sagnik: i think you are the only person who recognizes the danger of retaliating....belive me thats the ONLY thing that stops women from reacting...iot sucks i know...but thats the reality.

    @gauri: agree with you 100%. and i knew you wouldnt have forgotten that particular train journey...the drunk man almost puke don your foot no?? every detail of that is still fresh in my mind too...traumatic is quite a mild term to describe that experience i think.and what made it worse was the reaction of the people around.

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:49 PM  

  • These are the really bad times but then there are also the every day things, like when I'm walking down the street and someone walks/cycles/drives past and says something offensive. I feel so bloody impotent at times like that, furious but unable to do anythng. Often it's because it all happens so fast but also because there's always that little fear of what if I retaliate and he does something worse. I can understand you're feeling mad at yourself but fear of retaliation is a terrible reality.

    Of course what pisses me off more are the *often educated men* who say "oh, you must have been wearing/doing something inappropriate." It's traumatic that my body is not my own but is subject to the diktats of men. It seems so unjustifiable that a guy can walk the roads in sleeveless vests and micro shorts; showing off his hairy/non-hairy/repulsive body and no one says a thing and if a girl reveals so much as a bare arm she deserves all the comments that she gets. I once argued in a debate that the reason for rape was not that a woman displayed her body but that the rapists were lecherous bastards and intrisically perverts. Maybe I was being a bit harsh but the audience reaction stunned me. They were willing to stand up and say *no the rapist must have been provoked.*
    Of course there are the holier than thou types as well who say *what will you get by feeling angry and violent, let it be*. I had a sixteen yr old boy tell me that the other day. He's probably going to grow up into one of those standing audience who will snigger and tell a girl who's been molested *oh, let the poor man go, what will you get by taking him to the police*
    This world sucks. I just wanted to say this was a brilliant post but I got swept away by all the emotions your post aroused.
    and umm..I do like your prolonged comments, they make me feel a lot less guilty about my own endless comments here :D

    By Blogger babelfish, at 1:51 AM  

  • This was a wonderful post :) you know once i dragged a guy to a police station - he was doing unmntionable things in an auto and every few seconds i thought i would get raped. the auto driver was nonchalant. it helped that i had a friend with me and that she managed to gather together a crowd. the police actually told me to let the fellow go..i was disgusted beyond belief -"erokom to hoy" and i came back feeling totally humilliated at the futile exercise.
    it is always to do with the clothes - sleevelss top in summer, i should of coure wear a burkha in kolkata in may..i believe delhi is pretty bad but really no city is safe..

    By Blogger Dreamcatcher, at 2:45 AM  

  • totally, i know what you mean. they do sometimes get worse, i once got into a lot of trouble hitting someone in pune. pepper spray, then, i guess. it sucks, either way.

    and the clothes - yeah - why does that become an issue always, man. they expect you to live in burkha's. other than that whatever else you might wear is sales and promotion, according to them. b's

    By Blogger Prerona, at 3:46 AM  

  • Ron, pepper spray all the wayyy.
    Think its about time, they legalised it.

    By Anonymous bijoyyy, at 4:13 AM  

  • Your post brought back lots of ugly memories, and I know exactly how difficult it is to protest. And how you kick yourself two seconds later for not doing something, anything, how helpless and disgusted with yourself you feel for hours later. But there is also that ingrained fear of 'creating a scene' in us -- of drawing attention to ourselves. But each time something like this happens, I tell myself, next time, next time the bastard will get it.

    By Blogger The Marauder's Map, at 4:14 AM  

  • @babelfish: god!! that sucks!! that year old holier than thou idiot needs to go through some of the things ALL of us have, at some point or another...THEN he can talk!!!as for the stance you took at that debate..you were NOT too harsh!!! not in the least!!!

    @dreamcatcher: oh god!! you poor thing!! i realy dont know how and why men seem to think they can wank off anywhere anytime...my friend gauri and i went to see Fire and there was a guy doing that right next to us. and seriously, when u have risked a retaliation and made it an issue and taken it to the cops, it hurts even more when the so called guardians of law and order and safety smile and tell u "it happens madam..forget it"!! bastards!!

    @prerona: ki aar bolbo bolo!! they canot handle their hormones so we must suffer for it!!! disgusting!!! u know, a lot of people i know say, things are different abroad..people are better educated etc etc there...i could never comment on it because ive never been abroad..but your earlier comment today was SUCH an eyeopener!!thanks for telling me about that newspaper article.

    By Blogger Ron, at 4:15 AM  

  • @ bijoy: absolutely!! i agree!! the only way to inflict some pain on these perverts!!

    @marauders map: these were two extreme incidents..as babelfish put it, there are soo many incidents where its just a comment froma guy as he drives past, as dreamcatcher put it..unmentionable acts in public or even the way a guy looks at you...and each time ALL of us stop short of drawing attention to it because we are afraid to..who put that fear into us i wonder...when and why did they do that!!? ALL of us tell ourselves, next time ill give it back..but that next time just NEVER arrives does it?

    By Blogger Ron, at 4:20 AM  

  • the fucker! the FUCKER!!! oh my god, ron, you brilliant survivor you! big hug, for what we and every other woman each of us know have gone through. i'll be linking to this post soon. that okay?

    By Blogger Rimi, at 5:18 AM  

  • @rimi: yep!! thats exactly what he was!! thank you.its true no...each one of the women who have commented here and we know otherwise have similar tales of horror to recount. awful! and yes..by all means link to this :-)

    By Blogger Ron, at 5:21 AM  

  • I think its great on your part to stand up for things people would rather ignore than stand up for

    By Anonymous rahul, at 6:32 AM  

  • This is outrageous. But this is the harsh reality. We've all faced it, been through the humiliation and felt terrible about it. And this post made me relive those horrible incidents. I am going to link this post to one I write (when and if I get time....soon hopefully). I think you were brave inspite of everything.

    By Blogger M (tread softly upon), at 8:41 AM  

  • hey check out this amazing link....

    http://www.crushcalculator.com/content/love/357972162

    ....worked for me!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 PM  

  • what was that crappy link

    By Anonymous bijoyyy, at 9:53 PM  

  • We girls, all of us, have at some point would have gone through all of this and continue to go through it. It leaves such a bad feeling behind na?

    Earlier when I was in Cal, I would be quiet and take it lying down. You should see me now. If a guy touches me even an inch, I turn back and bark at him.

    And you know what, I actually feel like castrating such people. One thing I can't stand is a woman or child abuser.

    By Blogger AB, at 11:03 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Ekta, at 1:37 AM  

  • Hey Ron,
    gaawd!..reading your blog almost reminded me of n mumber of similar experiences!!!..Guess its sad but true that every girl probably goes thru this shit and the feeling at the end of it is not sadness...but disgust and frustation at your helpnessness sometimes!!

    Once thou I did finally managed to actually run behind the guy , cathc him by the collar and slap him hard on the face!

    Its sick how even after soo many years those horrible incidents never go away from your memory!....

    Anywayz--hey on a pleasant note--am an exTissian--2001 batch!:-))....just reading that name on your blog bought a smile to my face!

    By Blogger Ekta, at 1:38 AM  

  • @rahul:well, i wish i had done more...you met me right afterwards..remember how i kept saying i should have slapped him? i wish i had.

    @m: yes outrageous is the right word..ALL the women who have commented here have at least one horror story to tell, with the same conclusion "wish i had done more"

    @ab: good for you!! its great you have the guts to give it back. but do be careful you know. as for castrating these creatures..i agree!! thats the only way you will discourage others from daring to abuse another woman.

    @bijoy: i have no idea who that anonymous person was or why they are giving me these links...cant be spam..i have word verification...strange..

    @ekta: hello and welcome.god to hear that you did not get intimidated and managed to slap some pervert. he will hopefully think twice before repeating himself.
    about TISS...*ahem* i did go for the entrance exam..but TISS was a bit too much for me..i didnt get through..i later changed my mind and studied Mass Communications.

    By Blogger Ron, at 8:48 PM  

  • First of all, I'm sorry that it happened to you too. And I also know how it feels. I understand why you couldn't do anything about it too at that point in time.

    It happens everywhere, Ron. What I don't understand is why. It doesn't matter what you are wearing. I was very conservatively dressed whenever I was sexually harrassed (a salwar with dupatta). I think they need an excuse to pin it down on us women: that's where the clothes factor comes in.

    By Blogger Accidental Fame Junkie, at 12:50 AM  

  • @afj: clothes have absolutely nothing to do with it...women in burkhas get raped too dont they? clothes is just an excuse for these sick creatures to transfer blame. welcome to my blog btw, n keep visitng.

    By Blogger Ron, at 1:14 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger BangaloreGuy, at 5:59 AM  

  • That it happened sux. Reminded me of mangs episode on the train. And something I saw in downtown Cal - group of 20 men or so harassing a woman(who did shout back and was pulled away from the scene!). Sad.

    You should've slapped them both the cop and the culprit. Probably even shouted at the "gigglers".
    You should also probably learn a bit of the local lingo as well - people respond (faster?) to that anywhere. (and the culprit/cop would probably have been chastised)

    someone above says it has anything to do with people being sexual frustos, I think that's an easy excuse for them. IMO its got little to do with that and more to "objectification", after all, all of us arent such lechs!

    By Blogger BangaloreGuy, at 6:03 AM  

  • @bangalore guy: yeah i remembered mangs post too...kudos to her for having the guts to actually take the creep to the cops and file a case...i think she too mentioned that the general attitude of the cops is "let it be medem, he wont do it again.." bastards. and yes i should learn the local language..but i am soo linguistically challenged its not funny
    welcome to my blog btw :-)

    By Blogger Ron, at 8:53 PM  

  • "Im angry because I didnt slap the bloody cop! Im furious I did't slap those people aroudn me!" ..... guess U arent angry that U decided to simply blog here instead doing any of the above..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:16 AM  

  • @Anonymous: Is there a point to your comment??

    By Blogger Ron, at 7:53 AM  

  • It's really horrible and I can see how oppurtunistic these people are. Gosh!

    Why can't you log on to
    www.blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com
    and join the bandwagon.

    They have initiated a brave fight against this social menace.

    By Blogger Gladiator, at 10:33 PM  

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