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March 07, 2006

Street harassment and me.

(For Blank Noise Project Blog-a-thon 2006)

I don’t know to write essays on the topic of Street Harassment. I ll let my own experience speak.

The earliest experience that I can remember very clearly and has been haunting me forever was on a train. I was walking with my dad while my sis and mom were coming behind. We were walking on the train to get to our seats. A man who was walking towards us bumped on me, put his hand inside my top and groped my breasts. I was 13. I was wearing a white salwar with tiny pink flowers printed on them. I was too shocked to react and the man was gone by the time I came to my sense. Welcome to the world of perverts!

The three years I studied in Trichy was hell. I was groped, pinched, slapped behind, touched or the least teased almost everyday. I can write a book about it. I would say Coimbatore is a heaven compared to Trichy or Chennai. In my personal experience that is! To each to their own. I would really want to know why these men behave the way they do. Most definitely they have a mother and perhaps a sister at home. Or at least cousins. I can’t believe they will marry one day, have a family and be a responsible person. And lets not even get to the topic of old perverts. They just make me plain sick.

I went to the RK Hospital in Bangalore 4 years back for a medical check up. A chest x-ray was taken. There was a man in that big lab and while I stood with my chest pressed to the machine, he came behind me and told me he had to adjust a little. When I said ok, he put both his hands on my breasts and adjusted them! Whoa! I was shivering. I was wearing the skimpy hospital gown with nothing underneath. I did nt know what to do. I did nt even note down the assholes name. I am stupid, I know. I came out very angry and spoke to the girl who had her x-ray taken before me. She said she went in with her mom (smart move!) but even she felt a little scared about that guy. I have not felt that violated even when I got my first pap smear in a strange country by a strange man speaking a strange language. There’s always a female nurse with you all the time when a male doctor is examining you there. I can’t tell you how safe it makes you feel.

The worst thing about all this harassment is that it follows you home and screws up your life. I am in a bad mood for days; I pick up a fight on the drop of a hat with people at home. I want them to understand even without me telling them what happened. I am afraid they will call me stupid for not having reacted. I am angry with my parents for not keeping me safe from these animals. I want them to listen to every whim of mine because I think they owe me for making me go through this shit. I hate them for being irresponsible. I hate men. I am always suspicious about men. Now that I have a daughter, I am going to be paranoid all my life. Welcome to the world of perverts, kiddo.


And this is the first time I am talking about the harassment loudly. Telling your mother/sister/friend that you were pinched in your inner thigh today by an asshole on the bus is not easy. Believe me, its not easy. Especially when you are 15 years old. So I welcome projects like Blank Noise. Heres to safer streets!

ps. The two years I lived in the UK and another two years in Switzerland, I did nt have one experience of street harassment.

pps. And all the nice men out there who are really hurt that women are always suspicious about every man, stop being a whiner! Would you rather get hurt by getting pinched in your non-existent breasts? Please! Don't make this "your" issue.

21 comments:

S... said...

I am just speechless. I can talk. But can't put in words that coherently in ink. Reminded me of the time we all were traveling in train from Delhi to Chennai with a safety pin in hand. And all other incidences which might seem so trivial to guys but how badly it has affected our lifes. Anyway, speaking it out really helps! Let us not spoil our lives with those bad incidents! And move on......

Deepti said...

Its really sick.. and yeah.. now as a mother you do have so much to worry about a decade down the lane...your lab incident was horrifying!!!

neha vish said...

Hospitals are full of pervs. I don't trust male doctors after a few really strange experiences. In fact, it has contributed to my paranoia of hospitals to a great extent. I don't want to be in a situation where I am vulnerable to any of them.

And yes, it is definitely worse in India.. no matter how widespread it maybe.

ammani said...

I know there are noises being made about how BNP is aggressive and militant in its approach. But I say, sometimes you've GOT to make all that noise to have the slightest chance of being heard. And I agree, it's alot worse in India than it is here in the UK.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

I love the fact that you spoke about the pervs in the Xray lab...cos thats what they are: PERVS.
and I also love your p.p.s!
You cannot believe how many men acted guilty, and took offense, and whined that what I had written in my post was offensive to them cos "they dont eve-tease"....I cant believe they would make this about themselves!
Kudos to you, Boo
Cheers!
Megha

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Where did you study in Trichy?
Thx.

mystic chick said...

If we just go by statistics of blank noise participants, the rate is shocking. Each one of us has at least 20 such experiences to speak of. :(

B o o said...

Megha - that pps was added only after reading your comments section and some others too. And men dont seem to understand why we are talking about it in the blogosphere where, according to them, every guy is a nice guy! I dont know whether to laugh or cry!

Anonymous said...

puthumaip pengale puratchi seyveer!

*****thunive thunai******

Viji said...

I'm so horrified Boo... And so sorry that a wonderful woman like you had to face these perverts. The lab accident happened to me too and can you believe that a female nurse did that? It was so strange and embarrassing. The worst thing was, I didn't react... :(
Apram oru dhadava, KMU to Madras bus'la porappo, a man behind me touched my nape and started to proceed down. I turned and stared as if I'll tear him from limb to limb, but I was scared. I didn't even wake my father up. Fortunately, he didn't continue it.
And, nalla pazhakka pattavanga kooda sometimes flirt pannuvanga, I hate it when they "accidentally" touch me, but have never protested because they always had a "Sorry" ready. I still don't know how to react to these situations. :(
Though I haven't suffered much physically, there are several instances of verbal abuse... :(
Now I know why my mother never sent me out after 6 in KMU. Even when I did go out, it was always with my father or brother. I used to yell at her for that. Now I feel grateful. That saved me only to a certain extent.
I feel so vulnerable and I've never felt like sharing this to anyone.

Viji said...

Happy Women's day, by the way!

Anonymous said...

Its so shocking to see how every woman has atleast one incident to narrate..
It happened to me too when i was travelling by the TamilNadu state transport night bus from B'lore to Pondicherry a year ago. I was sitting at the window seat and i was very tired..so i promptly went to sleep that I didnt even realize that the guy at the window in the back seat was actually touching me and feeling my arms until quite some time. And then when i did i was very angry and upset and decided that this is not the way i wanted the rest of the journey to be! And then i called the conductor and told him this and what do i get in return!!The conductor just asked that guy "sternly" whether it was true..and that guy (obviously) said NO!! And that was it!! He didnt bother to ask the guy to move and neither could i move bcos it was very crowded...
But atleast the guy got scared and stopped doing it..
But after that i was actually upset for some days and getting angry with people for no fault of theirs...

lakshmi

blah_blah_blogger said...

Yeah they have mothers and sisters at home but they get in their monstrous avtaar when noone is watching and this mother sister line hardly ever discourages a pervert...

B o o said...

"You have a mother and a sister" line has been done to death, I know. I thought twice before writing it myself. But it still baffles me how anyone can indulge in a heinous act with a woman at home. Men with daughters at home harassing women on the streets is another issue. They belong in institutions!

alpha said...

mother and sister line? gimme a break..they wud do it to their mothers and sisters..no doubts abt that.

No wonder that line doesnt faze them.

Dubukku said...

though have heard these kind of abuses before...I am speechless here .

...shame on those people hmmm...

Adiya said...

This blog entry made me void for sometime. I just lost my heart beat for a while. Really i appreciate your strong voice towards perverts. hope those devils will be punished and move out of the world. I feel guilty and ashamed to say i am a trichian. such a holy city has such devils. :(

lets make next generation free from these people.

The Visitor said...

Boo - there is a spam in the comment section of your post "Street harassment and me."

The Mad Momma said...

we've all been there... i dont know the pleasure in feeling up a 12-13 year old with no chest... these men need to be shot... you can read my post for last year too..i linked it to the call to action for this year on my site...

Anonymous said...

i bloody hate them pervs, im a perv hunter .. i like to spot them out in a crowd , leering at girls, looking into cleavages, .. i like to stare at them.. and if looks could kill .. id be a serial killer.


and im a MALE human, a man u c'd say, 20 yo...

well .. i hate men too ;) .. good blog btw.

Leito said...

It's the guys that don't get any ass that go around groping people.