“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair” – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
What transpired on New Year’s Eve last year, at the heart of Bengaluru is, beyond doubt, one of the ghastliest incidents of mass sexual abuse, in recent times. The reactions given by some ministers, post-facto, are uglier than the incident itself. In the midst of all the negativity concerning the situation , I feel something powerful is transpiring now, and that needs to be called out.
Confessions of a closet victim
My earliest memory of being abused dates to when I was ten years old.
I did not connect the incident with molestation back then. I merely wondered why the middle-aged gentleman, standing behind me in the queue to a cricket stadium, felt the need to squeeze my bum constantly.
I remember being incredibly uncomfortable and shifting around to get out of his range, despite my naivety.
Once I hit puberty, eve-teasing, shoving and groping, in public transportation, became a regular feature of my commutes. For many years, I avoided reacting, making a point to move away or commute in a pack. By the time I joined college, I was not a silent victim any longer.
I was the ‘aggressive’ woman who retorted, and was advised to simmer down, for my own good!
Despite my aggressiveness, I never truly placed the blame where it belonged. I knew better, and yet I felt dirty, as if I was MAKING IT HAPPEN. I often wondered whether I could do something to make it go away. There were reasons why my belief was reinforced.
If an adult ever witnessed a situation, they advised ME to be more conscious, avoid crowds and be in the ‘protection’ of benevolent men.
That women in certain dresses, in certain places and at certain times, were inviting trouble, was a given! For many years, women like me, have stifled their angry shouts to ‘keep in line’.
A Welcome Scream
This brings me to the incident in Bengaluru on 31st December 2016. Men failed them, their government failed them – but, the women that day, made a statement.
They are NOT going to blame themselves for the perversions of another being, anymore. Molestation would not get brushed under the carpet, or remain unreported.
Women are now angry enough to fight the system of absurd misogynists, who believe these things ‘happen to women in western wear’. The muck is now, finally, in the open. No matter what a few pigs in the government think or state, people know exactly who to blame.
The very fact that there is national concern, regarding the outrage, is a powerful step. It is also heartening that women are not hiding away in fear, any longer. There are fewer ‘friendly’ advisers, advocating ‘less revealing’ clothes or ‘behaving’. Most men are also sincerely apologetic for what they believe is a failing of their gender.
I am sure many women who grew up in India in the 20th century would agree that molesters are not a new breed in the country. We have silently endured their onslaught for decades, and are now choosing to unmask their atrocities. It is not a time to be afraid, it is a time to fight!
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