Stand up to Street Harassment.

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Image: dnaindia.com

The following was submitted by SMIW contributor Neelam Kudale.

So this happened the other day.

I was shopping at Hindustan handicraft exhibition at Kharghar with my mom. While I was at a stall checking out a skirt, I suddenly heard a man at a stall opposite the one I was at, saying loudly to another:

“Arre bhai, pata hai yahaan sabse accha namkeen kiska hai? Yeh waala. Pata hai kyun? Sabse naram hai yeh namkeen.” 

(“Hey man, do you know which is the best salty treat here? This one. Do you know why? It’s the softest salty treat!”)

It took me a second to realise what he meant but when I did, I angrily looked at him and found him leering and staring back at me. My mom also realised what was wrong and asked him angrily,“Kya hai?!” To which, he said nothing, but continued to stare at me.

I put the skirt away and walked away. Because honestly, I was fed up.

On the way back home my mom kept asking me what exactly had happened because she could see I was clearly pissed off but for some reason, I didn’t want to let it out.

But thankfully, my mother persisted. She offered to take me to the police station to register a complaint and finally, I agreed. We went to the police station and from there, drove back to the exhibition in Kharghar with the police officers.

There, the police confronted my harasser who was humiliated and reprimanded, but typically, he didn’t accept his mistake – either because he was trying to save his skin or, maybe male entitlement, they see nothing wrong with verbally harassing a woman.

The man even had the audacity to call me “behen” to prove his “innocence”, at which point I could take it no more and yelled at him as well as the people who had gathered around us. He was then taken to the police station and we lodged an FIR against him.

Since I was 13, I have been harassed on the street and molested on public transport. But I never did anything abut it – until now. Today, I’ve felt immense pleasure, seeing that expression on the face of the man who harassed me – knowing he messed with the wrong girl.

I request every woman to do the same, every single time you experience such incidents. Because I know how you feel and, because these men will never give up. They will continue the same behavior.

If it’s not today, then it may be tomorrow. If it’s not you, then it may be some other girl.

At the same time I urge any male who claims to respect women – every time you witness street harassment, report it. These men will never understand, unless they know their actions have dire consequences. So please, go to the police station, or call the police to you. It’s their job to help you. Let them.

Being street harassed is not a compliment – it’s an insult and we will take it no more!

 

About the Author

Neelam is a 20 year old student of Fashion Design at NIFT, Mumbai and an admin at page Feminists of Mumbai.

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