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Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: In a sleeper bus from Mumbai to Goa
Was wearing jeans and shirt
Reaction: Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)
Incident was: One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 30-40

Experience:
I clearly remember that evening. I was really excited as I was going to Goa in December 2011 to attend the Sunburn Festival. All my friends were joining me from Bangalore and I had booked myself a lower berth on a reputed sleeper bus to reach Goa comfortably overnight.

I called my mother from the bus to tell her I am safe as the seats opposite mine were booked by a family of four and there were many youngsters in the bus who were going for the festival too. The lower berth behind mine also belonged to the family sitting in front of me.

I kept my bag near my face and slept off that night. In the middle of the night I felt that something was falling on my face. I adjusted the straps of my bag and slept again. It happened again. I then felt something itching on my face. Like something touched my face. I thought it was an insect and slept again. It happened a couple of times again.  I knew something was wrong. I was up and watching. I saw a hand creep in from the seat behind me to feel me up. I freaked out and did not sleep the whole night. I kept the lights on too.

I knew the guy who was doing this act was the father of two children – from the family sitting in front of me. I wanted to yell then but I thought I would create a scene and his wife would be disturbed. I kept quiet. But I was really really angry.

I had fortunately made friends with a couple at the tea stall last night when I was standing alone. In the morning when they asked me if I slept well I told them about the entire incident. The guy (the friend) was really angry and called the man who did that act in a corner to confront him. He started apologizing straight away and begged to us not to tell his family because his children were with him.

The girl who also became my friend insisted that I tell his wife about this as such men should be punished. We went up to the man’s wife and told her about how he was trying to touch me last night from the berth behind mine. To our surprise, the lady started defending the husband! Later when I got really angry and I said I would complain to the police she said she was sorry on his behalf and that her husband had a medical problem.

I then shifted my seat and sat with the couple for the rest of the journey.

I met both kinds of people on the same bus that day. Ones who don’t care about humanity and the one who go out of their way to help you and ensure girls feel safe in any environment in our country.

I thank God for meeting those people for I myself would have never gone up to that lady / yelled at that guy because I was scared I would scar a family.

But today when I look back, I know I did the right thing because I BROKE MY SILENCE! 🙂

 

6 Comments

Gender Female

Was: a victim
City: School van/Mumbai
Was wearing school uniform
Reaction: Helpless, Passively Endured
Incident was: One time

Perpetrator was a Friend or acquaintance and aged 20-30

Experience:
There were two incidents that happened at different times in the school van, by two different perpetrators. I was about 15 years old when this happened.

The first one was a school kid, a boy who was a year younger than me and studying in the lower class. He would sit next to me in the school van, and tried to stroke me on the back and sides and behaved as if nothing happened whenever I gave him a glare. He continued doing this for a couple of days, until I cried out angrily in front of everyone to stop it. He behaved as if he had no clue what I was talking about, but fortunately didn’t touch me again.

The other incident involved the man (we called him uncle) who drove the van. On the way back home, there was a time when all the other girls had already been dropped off, and I was the only girl remaining in the van with other school boys. I don’t remember how it all started,  but the van uncle was making lewd remarks about a girl’s private parts and all the school boys were enjoying it and laughing over it. Knowing that I was the only girl around, I could understand that it was aimed at harassing me, but I didn’t know how to react as even my school “friends” were joining in the abuse by laughing at it. Although, this was a case of only verbal abuse, it left a much deeper scar on my psyche than the former one or any other incidents of abuse because I couldn’t retaliate or talk to anyone about it at that age. Moreover, it was done by someone my family trusted my transportation to.
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It is very important for girls and women to retaliate and talk freely about such incidents, and to produce an environment where they feel free to do so. It is also necessary to educate school kids, both girls and boys, on how to react to such situations, when they themselves or a friend is being threatened.

*-Name changed on request

No Comments

Gender man

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

Incident was : One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 30-40

Experience:
I was in a train with a female friend of mine. In the moving train she suddenly started crying and I asked her what happened. She said the guy behind her groped her. I was wild and at the next station pulled the guy out and gave him a thrashing. He was sounding so aplologetic. I was gonna then let it go. Suddenly three of his mates came by and asked what happened. There was a transformation on his face which was remarkable. He stands up to me and said, “I will do it again and lets see what you do about it”. Till this time NO ONE on a busy Mumbai platform intervened. When my friend screamed and some people started moving towards them the hooligans ran away. I wonder how out of 1000+ people not even 10 muster courage

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to stop something like this.

Didnt even bother going to the police since would have got no response from them either. Just walked away. However if this incident or something like this happens in my presence I promise I will intervene and do something even then.

4 Comments

Gender man

Was: a victim
City: House/Mumbai
Was wearing shorts and shirt
Reaction: Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)

Incident was : One time

Perpetrator was a Friend or acquaintance and aged Less than 20

Experience:
The incident occurred when I was in my 10th grade. I lived in a big community belonging to the company in which my dad worked. A great friends circle and common schools, playgrounds and festivals provided an ideal environment for a close knit community. A neighbor of mine, 4 years elder to me, who I had befriended recently called out from her balcony asking if she could come over to my place, to which I agreed. My parents weren’t at home, which didn’t seem to surprise her, she didn’t express the slightest hesitation and neither did I find any reason to hesitate.
She came over, and we were watching TV when things got a little uncomfortable when she turned around and mentioned how weird my shorts looked with her left hand resting on my thigh. I slid away saying that I have always been weird, in the obnoxious way I usually do. A few minutes later her hand rested on my right shoulder and she asked if I liked her, by which time I had edged to my end of the sofa and was feeling extremely uneasy. I replied saying “ofcourse, aap achhi ho, didi (hindi for elder sister)” and stood up, feeling very scared and alone and not quite sure how to react, and muttered that it was getting late to play shuttle. She too stood up, and asked if I could get

her a glass of water. I went to kitchen to get a glass of water, and got a shock of a lifetime when I turned around, as I saw the girl standing across the corridor, topless with a smile. I started sweating, stunned, scared; and she moved towards me and raised her hand to touch my cheek, and then I slapped her. It might have been seconds, or minutes, but the next thing I remember was the door bell ringing. She said “open it”, and slipped into the restroom. My parents were at the door, and I mumbled something about being in the other room and not hearing the bell when they questioned me, mixing it up with telling them that she had come over. She came out, coolly saying “hi aunty, I was just leaving” and left but not before whispering that she had left a gift for me.
The moment she stepped out, I rushed to restroom, only to find that the horror continued, and she has left her undergarment there. I remember myself sitting there on the commode, scared to come out, scared to touch it, afraid of my parents, afraid of god, feeling guilty. I had called her didi, a sister, and to me that was sanctified, it had always meant a sense of comfort and protection and this shattered everything. My family was ultra-orthodox and at that moment I felt that my dad would kill me. Trembling I stuffed it in my pocket, fumbled out of the house, ran six stories down and threw it in a dustbin there. Came home, changed my shorts. I spoke to no one, which on hindsight I probably should have. This incident shut me down; I became scared to go down to play, uncomfortable around girls I met anew, starting staying in school or at my friends place more often and panicked every time I saw her. I hid behind bushes when she walked down the same path as me. I was scared of her, afraid of what she may do, of the revenge she may seek, of another move that she would make. My panic ebbed when I left the community, finally leaving behind the city I loved for my higher studies, my discomfort with girls vanished after I met some amazing friends, but I have never been able to completely shake it off, probably because I chose not to confront it, chose not to acknowledge my fear and weakness, chose to bundle it up. She has contacted me four times since, over phone and electronic media, and has accused me to rejecting her love, and every time I have panicked, for all I can remember is the fear of that day and the weeks that followed.
And till today am not completely sure that I have come to terms with it, and I am glad to have a chance to put it out. To break one’s silence is a daunting task.
personal

2 Comments

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

Experience:
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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1 Comment

Was: a victim2013-01-28 13.55.11
City: Street near my house/Mumbai
Was wearing Chudithar/Salwar Kameez with dupatta
Reaction: Reacted (yelling, complaining, slapping, fighting back)

Incident was : One time

Perpetrator was a Stranger and aged 20-30

Experience:
In the aftermath of a rape incident, what one often hears, rather unfortunately, is a blame game wherein the victim is held responsible for “instigating” the rape. Questions are raised as to why she was out partying late at night, about why she was wearing “objectionable” clothing, why she was out with a male friend at that time, or sometimes, why she out alone, instead of being accompanied by a father/brother.
Here is my story, in which i came within a hair’s breadth of getting raped, which shows that none of this matters. My only “crime” was being a woman.
The incident occurred one night (around 8 pm – not so late an hour for a woman to be alone, especially in a city like Mumbai!) on my way back from office (I wasn’t partying, nor was I drunk-so those two objections are shot down) and I was wearing a salwar kameez (definitely “traditional, Indian” clothing). And yet, I almost got raped.
I was walking on a footpath adjoining a row of houses, just around the corner from my house, when a man bumped into me groped me. My instinctive reaction to this was to glare at the man angrily. That is all I did – I protested through a facial expression against the use of my body as if it were public property. That however, was enough to make him angry.
He blocked my path, refusing me any opportunity to move ahead and out of his reach. He muttered something about how he was going to “teach me a lesson” for glaring at him. I kept moving backwards, realizing all the time that this was actually taking me further away from home. The street was empty then but since I was in a residential area I figured that screaming may attract someone’s attention. I raised my voice hoping to get noticed by someone and threatened to scream louder, to no avail.  He just kept saying that he would “make me feel sorry”. By this time I had lost all hope and was in tears. I have never known fear like I knew it at that moment.
Some angel must have been watching over me, because at just that moment, a car drove in to one of the houses. The man who was driving it heard my screaming and realized that something was amiss and came towards us, placing himself between me and the other guy.  The good Samaritan asked the other guy what he wanted, and at the same time signaled to me to leave. And I did.
I did not wait to thank him. I just ran-as fast as my feet could carry me. But whoever he is my heartfelt gratitude is with him. He is in my prayers always.
I was lucky. Many others are not. That is what scares me. That is why we need to speak up. And that is why I beg of you that if you see someone in this kind of situation, do not look away. If you hear a woman scream, pay attention.  You will make a difference!

1 Comment