Sometimes you read things that stay with you. Stuff that strikes you at once, you relate to it and then file it at the back of your mind to process later. One of those things happens to be an essay Neha linked to in her post yesterday. I read it. I felt upset. I forgot about it for a while and then it kept hovering in my subconscious again today.
Growing up in a time and place where six grade meant you moved from skirt and shirt to a salwar at school with neatly pinned dupattas and walking home from school after six PM meant there was safety in groups, my friends and I had our own experiences with road side romeos and unpleasant experiences that were hardly shared let alone discussed.
I distinctly remember being very careful when entering and exiting crowded buses. Using my bag or a file as shield to protect myself from groping. Learning to stamp or shove people who made unwelcome moves when standing in a tightly packed bus. Getting into an auto making it a point to remember the licence plate number and sitting on edge at the very corner in readiness to jump off should the auto driver take unfamiliar roads. The feeling of paranoia is to this date very familiar.
Reading that essay however far removed from the culture I grew up in still brought back the same feelings of fear and distaste. I was lucky in that I did not experience anything that could have scarred me for life but I shudder to think of the countless kids/teenagers experiencing things they cannot protect themselves from and facing a lifetime of trauma and internalized guilt simply because they cannot talk about it. Or even if they did to be blamed for being the victim.
It is one of those things that affect me deeply. The unnamed fear and the nature of the crime.
Updated to add the link to Blank Noise Project. Seems like a great initiative happening to bring awareness about eve teasing and harrassment. Hats off to them! Thanks Manchus for the tip.