A usual thing happened today.
I got groped
While walking back home
It was drizzling and dusk had set in
A bunch of guys on a bike were speeding
Towards me from the opposite direction
While I struggled with my umbrella
FOCUSING on avoiding puddles and the muck from tires of speeding cars.
Before I knew it, I felt a painful THUD on my chest
More than a couple of hands grab my breasts
Tossed me on a puddle, all within seconds
Before speeding away and screaming with laughter,
Championing a ‘SCORE!’
Not far ahead, three young girls burst in amusement
Tried to avoid eye contact with me as they passed me by.
My first instinct was not one
But all the different pieces of advice
That opinionated people have to offer.
I wanted to run behind them and BEAT THEM UP
But that was emotions talking
I wanted to do the intelligent thing and note down the bike number
But of course, it was too dark and there were no streetlights.
Another voice in my head told me not to react and just keep walking
Like nothing had happened, to ‘maintain my dignity’.
The latter was the most pathetic of choices
And the actual one that I made.
When I continued walking and my brain had the TIME
to absorb the incident, my mind was rushing
With questions that I would have to answer
Once I told someone about it.
“WHERE WAS YOUR PEPPER SPRAY?”
“Were you even dressed decently?”
“You STILL haven’t ordered a TASER GUN?!”
“You KNEW it was a bad area!”
“Why didn’t you run after them?”
“You SHOULDN’T run after them, such boys are vengeful!”
“So you didn’t do ANYTHING?”
You see what happened here?
Suddenly, I become answerable
For the entire incident, whichever way it goes.
Because society is conditioned
By whom you ask? Oh, you know, Patriarchy!
To hold the victim liable
The question of CATCHING OFFENDERS
Is NOT EVEN BROUGHT UP.
Nothing constructive is done to ensure
That incidents like these do not happen again.
I thought a lot
About whether I should publicize a personal experience
But the truth is,
It is far from personal.
These incidents continue to be on the rise
Getting away is easy for these culprits
As long as we don’t hold them accountable
As long as we let them get away with it
As long as we don’t confront them of their motives
As long as we question only the women and dismiss the men,
We as a society are curbing the symptom
Instead of curing the disease
We don’t just need to stop asking the wrong questions,
We need to start RAISING the right ones.
Imagine, what that could do.
More strength to all.
About the Author:
Rhea Mahanta is a Masters student of Political Science and a Diploma on Conflict Transformation and Peace building at University of Delhi. She is a graduate of Lady Shri Ram College for Women and an advocate of human rights, gender equality and refugee issues. Rhea is also a Pianist, public-speaker, chess player and an Indian Classical Dancer.