Vijayalakshmi Harish – Was: a victim City: Street near my house/Mumbai

 
 

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!

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