This story is part of the 16 Days Of Activism campaign against sexual harassment. People are invited to share their experiences and shift the onus from the survivor to the perpetrator. To know more and take part in the campaign click here.
Gone are the good old days when the only time you had to worry was if you received bad grades in school, if there was a smudge on the dress you wore or if kids broke your things. The worst physical pain you’ll experience is when you’ll fall down and get a laceration on your knee.
But now, the harsh reality is that the pain between a woman’s legs is somebody’s site of pleasure. This fact stabs one’s conscience every time we are reminded of it.
It is the modern era. Patriarchy set the monsters free to lurk around and look for the piece of flesh they crave which is worth nothing more than a plastic paper after they’re done with it. The monsters don’t look at themselves through the eyes of the society, the ones that see them as someone who’ll tear a delicate skin of a human being. That covering is not a mere piece of skin but it is the dignity of a woman. That theory is being used as a weapon to silence someone in pain and desperation for years.
I was warned of possibilities long before I knew what they could do to us. When I was 11 years of age I took a stroll to the tailor shop. It was sunset and the skies were dim. I didn’t give much attention to that point of time till I came around a corner and saw a group of young men. They were talking to each-other, laughing obviously enjoying the piece of liberty given to them in spite of the dusk. I kept on walking and turned to another road. A woman’s voice warning me of the opposite sex looking for pleasure spoke inside my head and I remember how fast my heart was beating and how nervous I was.
I didn’t show any sign of nervousness on my face. I didn’t look at any of them in the eye. While I walked I could hear them talking behind me commenting on my clothes, hair and slippers. What was I wearing? Churidar (with shawl covering my chest), my hair were open and I was wearing high heels. They spoke in pure Malayalam and thankfully I was not familiar with obscene Malayalam comments back then.
I began to quicken my pace after I heard them whistle and catcalling. The sound made by my high heels made them laugh and whistle further. I was ready to run and throw my heels at them if they came running after me. But they didn’t, thankfully by the time I reached home the sounds disappeared. I didn’t bother to look behind my shoulders to see if they are still there. What mattered is that I’m home. When I entered the house the first person I saw was the one who warned me of the possibilities of the catcalls, my grandmother! I kept quiet about the incident because, I was happy that I came back in one piece and I didn’t want my grandmother to worry about it too much, let alone deny me my freedom to walk out alone.
However I asked my father later on that day, “Dad, will guys make fun of a girl at night when she is alone” to which he answered a huge YES and nothing more. Of course, “making fun” was the least frightening thing that could happen.
There are a lot of things to remember from the earlier incident, I was just 11 years old. Those men must be pedophiles (or like-minded), set free by the patriarchy and victim blaming culture. They must have gone home to parents and other women and girls. They must have pretended that it never happened not knowing how many women are forced to not even “think” about walking out alone because of people like them. However, as a young mind I vowed to never walk out alone.
Then when I was 15, I was standing alone at a sweet-shop. A man who is old enough to be my grandfather brushed his hands against my things. I screamed while he did that and he dashed towards his car. I looked at him and thought “He must have a family. A son who’s probably married or daughter who sees him as her hero. Or maybe he treats them like shit too”. How else do you expect a man who shows enough guts to do that in broad daylight to treat his children and others. The vendor asked me what the matter was but I smiled and said “it’s nothing”. But then fear overcame everything else. The incident made me think twice before I wore the tight pants I wore that day because tomorrow someone will do something worse than just a “finger-touch”. I will be blamed for everything and be forced to live the rest of my life with shame.
That is what the victim blaming culture force us to do, and it is still very much alive. After seeing the entire nation fight for the justice of a young woman who was raped and murdered by a group of men (who were free enough to lurk around and take their violent sexuality for granted) I have decided to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH once for all. I decided to question and fight back all those who blame the victim and encourage victim blaming culture.
Either we can all live with fear adjusting to the rules set forward by those who protect the potential rapists or fight back!
The night is ours!
The earth is ours!
I am a human who deserves the respect and the right!
You have no right to invade us without our consent!
Your freedom ends where my nose begins!