Asking the Right Questions.

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Image: brunchnews.com

The following slam poetry was submitted by SMIW contributor Rhea Mahanta to our campaign #HaveShortsWillSmoke.

**

A usual thing happened today.

I got groped

AGAIN!

**

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.

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