*Dhanya – Gender Female Was: a victim City: Coimbatore

 
 

Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: Coimbatore
Was wearing : I don’t remember
Reaction: Helpless/passively endured
Incident was: multiple times

Being a girl is never entertaining if you are leered at and hooted at like a circus animal; not because of the harassment but because of the by-products it comes with. It was never entertaining, for me, at least always. I was around 9 and I found that my breasts had started to grow. For a nine-year old, it only appeared curious – the way it grew and how it stood. For me, it only filled with thoughts like ‘what was inside it!’ ‘would it keep growing!’ and ’why are my tops getting tight?. That being said it was only an addition of my body that I didn’t know what to do with. It didn’t occur that my ‘recent’ addition could possibly look like an object of lust for a guy. That day, I had gone to the bazaar with my mom; it was crowded, as usual and the dark evening was visibly lit by the lights from various stores. My mom was holding my hand with a firm grip and was leading through the crowd; I was still a child for her. Among the bustling crowd, I suddenly felt a man’s robust hand, firm enough, reaching one of my breasts, holding it for a second and squeezing it. It happened in less than a few seconds, when my mom was still gripping my hand and walking. I was too small to be shocked, but I was scared: scared at men, men who were of the same gender of my father. That night, I told my dad, “Appa, today…at the bazaar…one guy pressed my breast like an auto horn.” I was only that innocent to come up with such analogy. My parents were obviously shocked and unanimously decided, “Let’s not take her out for some time.” For a genuine opening up it’s always loss of freedom for a girl. I started receding in and when it happened the next time, I didn’t tell a word to my parents.

I was around 10 when it happened, and I was at home with a guy who I called ‘brother’; when I thought people are what you call them by. He was an electrician and I was sticking around to see how he wires things. At one point, he pulled me towards him and started to play with me and making me laugh. He threw me up in the air and caught me; he made me sit on his lap and put his hands around and started to say stuff that made both of us giggle. I didn’t pay attention to what he said as there was something else that was holding my attention. Something was moving under his dhothi;  I felt wriggling under my thighs. And in some time, I felt it against everywhere, once against my thighs, once at my bottom, once here, once there. He was still cajoling me like a kid. It took a while to realize something was not normal. This had not happened when I sat on my father’s lap. My mom accidentally came there now, and called me aside. Her face was flushed and told me to come downstairs. I now clearly knew something was wrong; it took a bit of wrestling to come away from him. I knew what it meant only after a long time.

Now my shell had started to thicken; I had stopped talking with random guys and if I had to, I did it with utmost precaution not to let them near me. My trust on men came with great effort on both the sides which took time to overcome. I started standing up against them doing whatever I could. I thought I had the courage to fight back; I have grown strong. But a few things didn’t let me be so.

I was 22 and I went to a movie with my sister’s family. Towards the intermission, I felt fingers from behind searching for something, first from the bottom of my seat and then from the sides. My heart was palpitating and I moved to tip of my seat. I was out of reach. I was sitting at the edge and was gazing at the screen nervously.  It’s not the groping or the look that makes harassment obnoxious but the after effect that makes it  – ‘it is better when you avoid’. I wanted to stand up and kick that man’s ass. But I didn’t have the courage to do it. I would only end up losing my freedom. My sister would think ‘if this happens when we are around, then what horrible things might happen to her when she is alone’. I couldn’t afford to lose my freedom once again, and I couldn’t passively endure it. I made myself hard to reach. After the intermission, the same guy had misbehaved with my sister and she started to yell to Mother Kali. That guy, being threatened, ran off. My sister’s courage was commendable, but my courage could have backfired.

I didn’t want to experiment how they would feel if I stood up, my question of freedom is more important to me to experiment with; but I knew they would definitely be worried. A few parents live in a myth that they have to bring their daughter up sinless and pure, something like ‘untouched by human hand’. The moment you tell what has happened, that their Cinderella-like-little girl has been abused, their myth gets crushed. They are comfortable with Cinderellas locked up at home than with a girl who fights back; it eases their heart that way.

I am being whistled at, I am being bruised by dark hands and I stand up when I am alone. I avoid and don’t fight back when my family is around, with their Cinderella myth intact. Would parents call their child and ask her to ‘Stand up and be bold’ the moment she says something she doesn’t know what to do with?

 

*Name changed on request

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