Aparna – Gender woman Was: a victim City


Gender woman

Was: a victim
City: Local train/Mumbai
Was wearing Long Skirt and top
Reaction: Helpless, Passively Endured

Incident was : One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 20-30

Victim, female, Mumbai, local train on the Harbour line around 6 pm.

Disclaimer : I honestly have no recollection of what I was wearing. My ten-year-old existence didn’t pay much attention to clothes, anyway. And I also have no idea how old the perpetrators were.

Mom, Dad and I were returning home, to Vashi, after meeting family friends in the city. During the onward journey, Mom had shepherded me into the jam-packed ladies’ compartment of the train, and Dad had squeezed into the general compartment. I was bewildered by the crowds, but it was a great adventure! I love train journeys, and the few trips to the city were special treats. Since we were returning at an off-peak hour, and we boarded the nearly-empty train at the starting point Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mom and Dad decided to travel together, with their super-excited daughter. Remember what people say about the simple pleasures of life?

I had a window seat, and the train ride was perfect. Up until Wadala Road. That’s when a sea of people swarmed in, and suddenly every inch of space in the train was occupied by people pressing against each other. The transformation was instant, and I could sense the change in my parents’ mood immediately – mom gripping my hand a little tighter, dad telling me to keep close to them when we had to disembark. For which there was still quite a bit of time, but we were already preparing for it. I think I remember Dad making a hopeful remark about some of the crowd leaving the train at Mankhurd, which arrived before our stop. Unfortunately, we had no such luck.

In the few moments that we navigated through the thick crowd, despite having two people doing their very best to protect me, I was groped by two people. One trying to squeeze my non-existent breasts, and one putting his hands between my inner thighs. I know these were two different people because they happened at different points in that short route, and we were the only ones who were moving. And yes, I am sure they were not “accidental brushes unavoidable in crowds”. It’s true what they say about “good touch, bad touch.” Even a naive ten-year-old knows the difference. Both times, I looked up, trying to figure out whose hand it was, but I couldn’t. It was insanely crowded, we were making our way towards the exit, and maybe at some level, I wasn’t even trying too hard. For one thing, I had no idea how to react, and for another, I was desperate to escape.

I have a vague memory of mentioning something about the crowd to my Mom– after many days spent thinking more seriously than I ever had, and feeling dirty. Looking back, I think if I had shouted or cried loudly when the first instance occurred, or in some way alerted my parents to what was happening, I might have been spared the second instance of groping. I have no doubt that they would not hesitate even momentarily before taking on a possible villain, or even the entire faceless crowd. But I was a shy and quiet kid, and my natural reaction had been silent shock.

Eventually, I mastered different techniques of evasion. Mumbai, and later, Bangalore, gave me lots of opportunities to practise my skills. Nimble side-stepping. Using elbows to ward off “unpleasantness”. Wearing a “busy” and “no-nonsense” look. Using my backpack as a protective layer. Never, ever letting my guard down.

I don’t think there’s anything remarkable about my story. It’s an ordinary story that involves a couple of random perverts and a defenseless kid. But it was my first time, and, to quote

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