Friday, 21 April 2017

You Are Never Too Safe

Growing up as a girl in India you get used to a certain level of sexual harassment. The normal ogling, whistling, nasty remarks and inappropriate touching are passé - not that it has stopped but one simply learns to ignore. But today I got a glimpse of something different altogether - power of mob.

I was walking back home through a reputable residential area just few blocks away from my place (around 5 PM) when a gang of bikers (5-6 bikes) approached from the other side. And by bikers I mean low class thugs with disgusting smiles smeared their across the face. But since it was middle of the day and in a short distance there were two watchmen (albeit shady looking) I assumed there was nothing to fear. Next instant one of the bike stopped close to me and stopped, I continued to walk trying to follow our "ignore" policy and in background I heard them discussing whether to pursue me or not. One guy finally said let's go and the sound of engine went slower and slower.

All through my remaining walk I couldn't help but think about what had happened. It was all too quick for me to feel scared and luckily nothing did happen, but if they had indeed decided to pursue what could I have done?

You see even if we are not as strong as men physically somehow when there is just one, you fool yourself into thinking you can fight. But what are you to do if there are more than two? I mean even if one is trained in martial arts what is one to do against a group of people?

There is phrase "united we stand, divided we fall", which took a whole new meaning in this context. You see there is evil in each of us, of course some have more than others but my point is individually we fear society and its general norm. If that guy was going alone in the bike I am sure he wouldn't dare such a stunt in the middle of the day. But with his friends around who share similar mindset, this cheap (but otherwise harmless) guy gets encouraged to such obscene acts.

That's when you realize how powerful a mob can be and how dangerous it can get. A mob doesn't have a face. A mob can get away with anything and unfortunately they have managed to do it in multiple occassions. And it explains why there are so many cases of gang-rape in our country.

The worst thing about the whole incident is I can't find a single thing I could have changed or avoid as precaution. I mean I was walking in a safe, residential area in the daytime, wearing jeans and casual t-shirt. What else could I do as a woman to keep myself safe? And now knowing something like this can happen in future, how can I prepare myself to deal with a gang of men?

I don't feel scared. I feel helpless and hopeless by the entire episode. Physical wounds may heal, but the emotional scars which never heal and that's exactly what sexual abuse does to you. Even though superficially things look good, our foundation itself is faulty. I wonder how many generations it will before this mentality is wiped off from our minds.

Till then, girls, never let your guard down.

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