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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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Gender Female

Was : a victim

City : Chennai

Was wearing : school uniform

Reaction : Moved away silently

Incident was : multiple times

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 30-40

I am sharing few incidents that hurt me the most during my child hood.

I was in 4th or 5th standard then. My father was a business man & my mom was supporting him in his business. Everyday they would leave early in the morning and sometimes returned home as late as 10  or 11 PM. During weekends, they take me with them to their office. Sometimes I refuse to go with them as it was extremely boring to sit at the office, doing nothing and preferred to stay at home.
One evening, I was watching TV lying on an easy chair. It was almost 8 PM and my parents had not returned. My neighborhood uncle, aged 35 – 40 years, came inside asking me if he could watch the TV with me as the TV in his house wasn’t working. I got up in respect, offering him the easy chair. He asked me sit on it and sat down on the floor beside me. After ten minutes, he suddenly took off my frock and started fingering. I was taken aback and did not know how to react. I became numb. I was blaming myself for not wearing underwear. He would stop every 5 to 10 minutes to see if anyone is coming and continue. I did not know how to stop him; I was praying that no one should see this as I was afraid that people might call me a bad girl. After about two hours, my parents came home.
Hearing their footsteps, he quickly covered me with my frock. My parents were surprised to see him and thanked him for looking after me when I was alone.

Once again when I was alone, he tried to use the situation. I got irritated and called him a dog. Then I shut the door in front of him and did not open it until my parents returned. He got frightened and went back. I then realized how I should react to him to send him away. But still he would disturb me whenever I were alone and try to use the situation. But I escaped from him by shouting back and
locking myself inside our house.

One noon I was returning home from school. As I opened the main gate of our house, a fat man, who came in a bicycle, stopped at our house and came to me asking for an address. Like a child, I told him where it was. He slowly asked me which standard I studied and if there were any health inspection in our school. It somehow coincided that there was indeed a health inspection that day. I told him yes and that the health checks are due to me the next day. He said he is a member of the campaign and started pressing the sides of my breast. He asked me if it hurt, I said no, thinking he is really checking my health. Then he asked me to turn back, raised my uniform and removed my underwear. He then put his palm between my buttocks and fingered my vagina from behind. He asked me if it pained. This
time I said yes, to stop him from doing it, realizing his real intention. Then he asked me to turn front to see my front part. I said no I would not. He kept talking with me for few minutes to see if I would accept. I said a strong no and then he went away in his cycle. I was feeling shameless for not realizing his intention in the first instance. I was blaming myself for being so innocent.

I had gone for a wedding with my parents when I was around 12 years of age. A guy, aged 20 approximately, was constantly watching me wherever I went. I found it uneasy but thought it is normal for guys to see girls in weddings. I wanted to go to the washroom and called my mom to accompany me. But she told me where it was and asked me to go on my own. When I was sitting in the closet, someone pushed the door hard to open it (the door was made of just an ordinary metal sheet). Even before I could get up, the door was opened and the guy who was watching me throughout the wedding was standing out. He watched me for almost 2 minutes and quickly went away hearing someone coming. I felt ashamed and ran to my parents. On my way, I saw him sitting with his gang of friends and having a nice gala time. I was bursting inside and hurriedly asked my parents to leave. My mom scolded me for asking them to leave so early. I was unable to tell my mom what happened and was silently blaming her inside my mind for not accompanying me to the washroom.

I am now the mother of a 2 years old baby girl. I do not trust any of my neighbors and ensure that she is not left alone with anyone. I will educate her on good touch & bad touch and teach her how to react if anyone ever tries to misbehave with her. I will tell her that it is not her fault and not to feel guilty if anyone ever behaves that way. Most importantly, I will ask her to share every incident with me. I think this is every parent’s responsibility.


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whosays-picGender woman

Was: a victim
City: House/College/Office
Was wearing Long Skirt and top
Reaction: Moved away silently

Perpetrator was a Friend or acquaintance and aged 20-30

Incident was : multiple times

I had 4-5 experiences which had made me feel uncomfortable.

First incident was when I was attending math tuitions in my 9th grade. The math teacher(who was atleast 65) was touching my neck and slowly trying to move his hands downward. I pushed away his hands. My mom happened to see this when she had come to pick me up. But I continued the math tuitions which I shouldn’t have. He did not repeat it after that, though. I still feel I should have slapped him tight.

Second incident: I was alone at home and the contractor who constructed our home came to see something. I was standing and reading something.He came and groped my back. I quickly ran away and called my parents. I stayed downstairs and outside the hose till he left. My grandmother came from my cousin’s house and questioned him. I believe he was embarassed.

Third incident: It was in my office. One of my friends came and talked to me when I was in the early morning shift. No one else were in the cubicles nearby. While talking he came and kept his hand on my thighs and tried to push it up. I moved away from that spot. Somehow I did not tell him then and there. I pinged him the official messenger and told him I am not comfortable with whatever he was doing. He made some excuse and said he was trying to teach me something and bla bla bla. Today I feel I should have complained to the hr. The same guy used to ping me in messenger and talk to me about bra and stuff. I called him a pervert and blocked him in messenger.

Fourth incident: I was climbing the college stairs and one of my classmates came and groped my hips. There was no one else near by. I moved away and messaged him that I am not comfortable with gents touching me in any way. He apologized by texting.

Fifth incident:There was some email wars going on and one of the guys called me something bad. I told him that it is his girlfriend. He got pissed off and wrote 20 emails with lot of abusive stuff like I will do anything for money, sleep with your brother and a lot other things which I can’t even write here. I asked him to fuck off. I should have forwarded it to the college dean. Alas! it is too late.

I did not react or escalate these sexual/verbal abuses in all these cases above. Today I regret and believe that I should have reacted in a much better way.

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Gender woman

Was: a victim
City: Bus, Park, everywhere
Was wearing Chudithar/Salwar Kameez with dupatta
Reaction: Helpless, Passively Endured

Incident was : multiple times

Perpetrator was a Friend or acquaintance and aged 20-30

The one thought that always comes to my logical mind, when I hear of sexual abuse is this… Why should we, as victims, be ashamed, ever. It has been long since we have ignored the monsters, who have mistook our tolerance to be our weakness. Our silence has been taken for submission.

Today, I would like to share a few lessons I learnt, through my story. I had a taste of fear, embarrassment and an assault to my dignity too, not once, not twice, but several times. It is appalling that all of us have similar stories to tell. Our men can keep us safe and we can, together, keep our daughters safe, only when all of us know what we go through each day. As I walked through incidents of

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my life, even as a little girl, I let go all the fancy myths of a the world being beautiful and built a safe sheath of facts around me, which is sad , but a practical guide for survival. I would like to share it with all girls and parents too.

My first brush with the ugly side of life was when I was 9. My parents bought me a bicycle and asked one of my young relatives to tutor both my sister and me. He was a young boy of 16 and my distant brother. As little sisters of his, we trusted him more than anything and he proved us wrong. We were taught fewer lessons of cycling, and bigger lessons of life. After a couple of days, I complained to my sister that the guy has been touching me in ways he should not. She agreed that everything wasn’t right with her too. We took it to our parents, who were equally shocked, and being teachers at heart, went to the boy’s parents to impart some moral science lessons to him. However the boy’s parents strongly dismissed our complaints and threw my parents out of their house. Today as a grown up man, the boy faces charges of dowry assault and sexual harassment . How I wish they took time to hear us, then.

Myth 1: Your little girl is too young to be sexually abused.

Myth 2: Your little girl is in the safe hands of a relative and you can leave her un-monitored.

Myth 3: Your boy comes from a great family background and hence cannot perpetrate sexual crime. [ Please identify early and nip it off, at the bud ]

I was probably 12, not even mature enough to understand the adults world. I was only taught that the world is a beautiful place and to greet everybody with a smile. I was at a supermarket, with my parents around, and my cousin brother holding my hand. A man passes by, probably a middle aged uncle and I give him a pleasant smile. He returns a wicked smile and pinches my chest. I step aside in embarrassment. I was in safe hands, I was fully covered and damn, I was not even an adult yet – none of it matters. That day I believe the innocent smile turned into a skeptical one and continues to.

Myth 4: Sexual harassment does not happen when parents are around.

I was 13 when I was travelling by bus and a man kept rubbing his penis against my shoulders standing next to me. This time I was brave enough to tell my uncle accompanying me. He only replied, “let us get down in the next stop”. The only logical thought I had was, “Why should I get down?”. That day I began to question.

Myth 5: Your little girl complains so often. Don’t take much notice since she is a kid.

Myth 6: Your girl is safe if she is taking the public transport [ Not at all. Please talk to her each day ]

I was 14 and was traveling by bus to my village. The man behind me groped me, while the uncle sitting next to me was all over me. I got up and complained to the conductor, who meekly gave me another seat. That very day I saw that not everybody stands up against shit, and probably I should do it myself.

Myth 7: People around you will always stand up, in your support. [ Don’t expect support. Just be confident to fight it out]

I was 15, and was at a cousin’s marriage. My cousin’s neighbor, who was atleast of my grand dad’s age groped me and pulled me towards him, all in the name of love and care. I quickly resisted and jumped back.

Fact: Age, family, caste – Nothing matters – such acts can happen with anyone and anywhere

I was 16 when I was being followed by a fellow student, who was stalking me wherever I went. My mother asked me to be cautious, but probably did not take it very seriously, considering he was a class mate. One fine day he stopped my friend to inquire about me, she took the incident to her dad and to my dismay, her dad complained to my parents about me and not the boy. My dad looked at me, smiled, placed his hands on my shoulders and said “I trust you my little girl. I will sort this out for you”. I am so indebted to my dad for those words of support

Myth 8: Your girl is safe with her classmates.

I am 29 today. Not a year has passed without one such incident happening . But I am proud I have learnt to handle it better.

The other day strangers asked me for directions and as I led them their way, they began to pass lewd comments. I shouted back and called the traffic police.

I was walking to the station to catch a train back home and a drunk teenager follows, asking me to accompany him home. I yelled so loudly that an entire coach stepped out in support.

My widowed maid told me that there was a family fight and her brother in law told her ” I will get both your girls raped” without any remorse . I went to her house and threatened him that I will get him arrested the next time he makes such remarks.

I realize, nothing around me has changed, but I have. I learnt my lessons the hard way. I am definitely stronger than what I was when it all started – bold, capable and outspoken. I encourage every girl to protect herself and not become easy targets.

WHAT HELPS: Be confident, be loud, discuss with your parents, friends, and relatives, and always, shout for help. “I’m not sure if it was a deliberate act” is a common thought that comes to our mind, under such circumstances and the prime reason for young girls to endure such nonsense. Brush it aside and shout for help. It is our innocence, our unpreparedness, our timidity, and the habit of giving the perpetrators the benefit of doubt, that leads to such brazen acts of abuse and assault.

We have no choice, but to only grow stronger from here. Let us build a safe haven for each other. Little acts of caution, little fingers of support and a LOUD CLEAR SHOUT OUT can go a long way. I only request all men to be more sensitive towards what a lady is put through each day and to stand by them. One single voice of support from our own men comes a long way.

Despite all this, it is amazing how we women still continue to lead an extremely sane life, strive to keep our families secure, perform fantastically well at work and continue to explore life with enthusiasm. It requires not a heart of steel , but a ‘heart of a lady’ to do that..ibms_pic


Gender woman1

Was: a victim
City: Chennai
Was wearing Chudithar/Salwar Kameez with dupatta
Reaction: Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)

Incident was : multiple times

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 20-30

It happened when I was in 3rd grade. Like all other child I was fond of playing in the sand. There was a small heap of sand .It was around 7 p.m when my brother and I were practising long jump. We were doing all sort of funny stunts. A stranger (30-40 yrs) kept on watching us. He was praising us. Later he talked with my brother for hardly 2 minutes. So I thought, he was 1 among the known people in my street. Then he approached me and he asked for some basic details about me and kissed my cheeks . I wasnt feeling weird coz whenever I meet my relatives they used to kiss my cheeks. It was my last jump and the guy said, ” I like you so much and you are so funny active kid. Can I kiss you 1 more time.” I smiled and showed my cheeks. But this guy held my face so tightly and gave a lip kiss. I tried to withdraw but he was so strong that I couldn’t move further. The moment he left me I immediately ran to my house and started cleaning my mouth with lots of toothpaste. My parents found this action of mine very weird and they asked for the reason . My dad went in search of the guy but he couldn’t find him. Later he scolded my brother for letting me alone and started keeping an eye on me wherever i go. I wasn’t allowed to go out after 6 p.m after this incident. It took me a long time to overcome from this incident and whenever I see any english movies, it still affects me terribly . It took 6 months for my parents to forget their restrictions imposed on me.
My horrible experience never ended here. I went to Bangalore for my vacation. When I was in 7th std,my aunt took me to Water World. There was a long queue in front of the ticket counter. Somewhat I wasn’t comfortable to enter as I found the guys were bit rogue. When I told this to my aunt she

advised me to remove such a biased thought. The moment i saw the swimming pool I forgot everything and started enjoying a lot. I never noticed a guy (25-30yrs)was following me. I rode all rides with my cousins being my body guards. But one particular ride my cousins were scared to go. This ride was a kind of closed tunnel and it goes in a zigzag manner. My cousins refused to go because they feared they might get struck. My over excitement forced me to experience this ride. As per the instruction of the guy in charge for the ride one shouldn’t enter the ride unless the other comes out. But this guy turned a deaf ear to the instruction given by the guard and he came behind me immediately. I got struck in between and this guy hold me so tightly and started pressing everywhere. At first I thought he did it unknowingly in fear (even now I regret for being so stupid). But later only realised this was a planned one when he yelled,”We have done so much Why don’t you sleep with me.” I was dumbstruck and didnt know how to react . If i share with someone my freedom will be curtailed like before.
In one way or the other i was facing such problems. I thought it will end here. But it didnt. When i was in 9th std i went to a coaching centre for X (not willing to mention the name). My professor allotted a senior guy (25-30yrs) as my guide. I am supposed to report him all my activities. One day my parents went out and I was feeling lazy to go to class. So I called the senior guy and informed him that I needed one day rest. I told him the truth when he asked me for the reason. The very next question,”Are you alone? Can I come to your house?” I was a bit shocked and asked him the reason. He replied,” My penis is becoming large why dont you allot some half hour?”. I was speechless and disconnected the call. Then I started searching for another coaching centre. My dad was suspicious and somehow gathered information about this centre. He asked me to withdrew from this field X and he asked me to focus on academics.
This was the turning point in my life. I was in agony and no peace of mind. I used to feel ashamed of myself for being a passive recipient of these abuses. Then I realised its time to take a decision to keep myself protected from these bastards. My anger kept on growing day by day.By this time I was able to distinguish people to some extent. It was then I found a guy (30-40 yrs) in a bus depot.He showed some disgusting gestures and slowly he started approaching me. The moment he uttered few words, I slapped him and I got into a bus. First, I couldn’t believe I slapped some stranger so small surprise. Secondary I felt like I was relieved from some burden. There was so much satisfaction and happiness which I haven’t experienced for many years. So many years of frustration was relieved in a day with single slap. But still I wasn’t courageous. This happened when I was in 11th std.
The next incident which took place when I was in 12th std made me a courageous person and I never had the fear of facing any guys after that. I was returning from a temple to my house. I was able to sense a particular man (40-45yrs) was following me from the temple. I turned back to confirm it and he made some kissing gestures. My anger reached its peak. As I was aware of the shortcuts to my house and friend’s houses in my area, I slowed down my walking pace when I was few meters away from my friend’s apartment. I was waiting for the guy to come bit closer. When he was just few meters away I threw the coconut, (which I was carrying for the temple) on his face and kicked at his private part. Before he could recover from the pain I ran into my friend’s apartment. I was very proud of myself for sometime. There after I started carrying a knife for additional safety for next few weeks.

*-Name changed to protect privacy of author


Was: a victimBMTC__BUS_164836f
City: Crowded Bus/Bangalore
Was wearing school uniform

Reaction : Moved away silently

Incident was : multiple times

Perpetrator was a stranger, in the age group of 20-30

I don’t think I have told this to anyone until now, but I think it’s time I broke my silence too.

I must have been about 8 years old, I don’t quite remember too well. It was a very crowded bus and I was standing (with my dad somewhere nearby). Two young guys offered to make space for me in their seat. I vaguely remember one of them being really nice to me, so I decided to sit. They made me sit down between them. The really ‘nice’ guy held me a little too tight and kept winking at me. I didn’t know what bothered me but I was instantly uncomfortable. He forced a kiss on my cheek. I called for my dad and got out of that seat. Thankfully my dad came by and nothing else awkward happened.

Fast forward a few years, I must have been 12 or 13. This one I remember quite well. I was with my grandmother coming back from whitefield in a crowded bus (just my luck). We had to adjust with this very elderly man (50+) because I was too small a kid to take up a whole seat for myself. This old man instantly struck up a conversation with my grandmother. I remember that he was extremely nice and polite and soon diverted all his attention towards me. He soon started hugging me. Then he asked if he could kiss my cheek. Weird! When I didn’t say anything (one of the problems in India.. children cannot speak badly to adults even when they are trying to abuse them), he just forced one. I don’t think my grandmother even realized that I was uncomfortable. I don’t blame her, she just thought this man was being affectionate. I started to squirm and turned my face far away from him. He continued to try forcing more kisses when I just told him to stop and that I don’t like it. I think he actually asked me why, in a coy way as though nothing was wrong and continued his attempts. I think he soon got out of the bus. I remember being extremely relieved after that.

I didn’t quite realize why both these situations made me so uncomfortable until much later. I’m glad I became extremely cautious after that while travelling in buses.