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Abuse & Harassment in Today's World

I read this old post in one of my favourite blogs and it brought back to my mind some incidents from my own past. Events that had completely unnerved me and left an indelible mark on me. Nothing really drastic that nonetheless have scarred me for life.

Some of the earliest instances date back to the time when I used to travel by bus and the 'studs' used to pass leery comments. Crude, obnoxious remarks that were not at all for the ears of a twelve-year old. And then there were the gropers who would pinch your bums and anything else they could get their grubby mitts on. Shouting for help never really worked as no one generally took a blind bit of notice. Plus there was the very real fear that they get caught because of you, they might come with the rest of their goondas and exact revenge on you on the morrow. Then there were those dhoti-clad ones who let their bits hang free and got their kicks by rubbing them against your behind. A hardening organ rubbing against you in a public transport is a very scary thing indeed.

I still can feel the panic rising in me as I remember this dark stranger who once followed me home from my computer class. He wouldn't stop staring at me in the bus and got off at my stop. Never once flinched, kept steady pace with me and short of taking off like the wind, there was nothing I could do to shake him off. Even when I was afraid of leading him to my home, I couldn't gather the courage to take a fake route and mislead him somehow. Ultimately, I dived into my friend's block and hid on the stairs for a long, long time till it grew dark and I had to go home.

Then there were the countless times I was taunted and jeered at the LIC bus stop by the roadside romeos from Nandanam Arts College who haunt our college bus stops. The 'men' who used to get such pleasure from scaring young girls brainless that one even ran into oncoming traffic to escape their clutches.

When I look back, I cannot help but think my parents were rather naive - or blind. In a world full of perverts, they innocently trusted their daughter to travel everywhere by herself and come back home unscathed. Though it was I who insisted on travelling solo by train to Mumbai, I shudder now when I think of what harm I could have befallen me. Or the time when I went to Trivandrum for a friend's wedding, without even letting her know I was coming as I wanted to surprise her.

My experiences, though thankfully not too serious, still made me rather jittery among men. They made me act out in rather funny ways one of the most memorable ones being this sudden hankering I developed for a big brother. Maybe it was the protectiveness I craved but I tried to fill the void by the only method I knew how by tying rakhi for couple of older guy friends.

At one point, I was rather suspicious of every male I came across even ones linked to me by family. I used to go out of my way to make sure I was never left by myself with any of them. I could also never make eye contact when talking with them and if one of them became genuinely friendly, it only made me suspicious. I even cut off all relations with S's close friend because me playfully pinched my cheek once. I guess those events have disturbed me a lot more than I gave them credit for.

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The year 2007 in Brentwood dawned with news reports of two girls raped at midnight in different parts of the town. Since then, I have read numerous reports of girls being molested, both here and back in India. I am sure the men who did it are under the mistaken impression that it was a sign of their manhood, that they have brought a woman to her knees. How will we make them understand that it isn't so - taking a woman by force and leaving a dirty footprint on her life is not macho, it is not something to be proud of. It is rather a shameful act; one so vile that no punishment is sufficient and no act possible to eradicate that event from the affected woman's life. What will it take for a man to understand that it is the ultimate act of cowardice to scare and scar a woman so?

One of the biggest misconception among most men is that having a dick maketh a man. Well, it ain't and the sooner the pervs of this world realise this, the better. A biological part does not make somebody a man. Scaring young girls and violating a person is most definitely not the mark of manhood and anyone who thinks otherwise is seriously deluded.

Now that I am a mum, I am even more worried about the sort of world I have brought my son into and how safe I can keep him. I so empathise with the blogger’s and her husband’s fears when strangers express a desire to take pictures of her little boy the world is not innocent anymore and it is a sad day for us when we have to view every single thing with suspicious eyes. But when the alternate is just way too horrible to contemplate, parents can be excused for wanting to wrap their children in cotton wool.

These fears are so real and prevalent in UK that we are banned from taking pictures of children in places like schools, in parties and other assorted gatherings. Most places have big notices saying ‘No cameras’ and you need special permission to take pictures even if you are having a party for your child in a public place. I couldn't understand this before I became a mum; now I am happy whatever measures are there in place to prevent perverts from getting a picture of my son.

I have filled little P’s head with dire tales of strangers and what they can do that he has equated a stranger to the most vile kind of monster a five year old can imagine. Then again, those that harm us and our precious children do not disguise themselves as strangers anymore, do they? Read the case of two-year old Casey Mullen, who was raped and strangled, in her own bed, by her own uncle. I am absolutely bereft of words.

I am sure my blogger pal and I aren't alone in this fear of ours scores of parents must feel the same way and some of the blogs I have read on this subject just prove my belief. A whole generation of children are going to be molly coddled and cosseted by their parents who are fearful of the harms that could come to their child that the children are in very real fear of being too afraid to do anything carefree and fun. Never mind the fearful strangers robbing them of their childhood, we overprotective parents might just end up doing it by stifling them.

The question on my mind now is, where do we go from here? With morality on a steady decline, what is the path humanity is meant to take in order to save itself? How are we to keep our children and ourselves, safe?

Posted by DesiGirl 7:54 am  

3 Comments:

  1. The Mad Momma said...
    ah... there is nothing to do but warn them and be cautious... i know that if something crosses my mind as a fear and i dont do anything about it, and then something does happen to the Brat... I will never forgive myself. there is of course nothing to be done abt the horrors that dont even cross your mind.
    Amrita said...
    drama queen! and here I thought you were in dire peril.
    oh and just in case one of those silly SIFers are lurking out there - the above does NOT refer to the post itself.
    There! I've covered all bases and in simple english too.
    oh, and cool blog DG - I dont know why I havent swung by before. better late than never, eh?
    DesiGirl said...
    oi! am not a drama queen. check out the 'rants and random stuff' or whatever i called it - about Vulturo etc. can't miss it - the only one with 20 *gasp* comments.
    ps: you're right - better late than ever!!

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