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Young girls often face their first experience of street harassment even before they can understand what is happening to them.
Young girls often face their first experience of street harassment even before they can understand what is happening to them. Sadly, almost every Indian girl has one such memory.
#AskingForIt is an initiative by Breakthrough to mobilize communities and get every individual, both online and in the ‘real world’, to speak out and not treat sexual harassment as ‘normal’. The Women’s Web #AskingForIt blogathon asks our readers to share their experiences, suggestions and resources on the topic of street sexual harassment in India and countering it.
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Almost two decades ago, I was about 11 or 12 and for no apparent reason averse to Holi. Although I lived in the pristine Shimla of the eighties and did enjoy playing in snow every winter with friends of both genders, Holi never inspired me enough.
It was Holi again and I was locked in my room all day. All the neighborhood girls did the same; only boys did venture out to throw coloured water balloons and shout, Bura na mano, Holi hai! (Don’t mind, it’s Holi!)
As is still the norm in most places, by evening the colour games had halted and most families had settled down to spend a holiday evening together. Every evening, I used to walk about a 100 meters from my house to fetch milk for the next morning and because every thing looked sober now, I walked to the booth as usual.
On my way back, about 50 meters away from my house, in the narrow galli, this man who ran a paan-bidi shop in the neighborhood sprang out suddenly from a corner, looking every bit inebriated. I stepped back to give him way, but when he was about an arms length away from me he suddenly took out a handful of gulaal from his pocket and just because he was a couple of feet taller than me, rubbed it in my hair very harshly shouting, Happy Holi.
I dropped the milk packets and ran home. Mom kept asking me what happened and when I couldn’t say what exactly had happened, she presumed that some friend from the neighbourhood had played a prank.
After that day, my evening stroll did not happen for many years till I was older, stronger and probably more mature to handle a similar situation, if need be.
I told mom what exactly had happened only a couple of days later and she did take it up with that man only to get a denial from him, that he never remembered doing any of that.
Many years later, I realized that was my first brush with crude public harassment. Maybe it could have happened to anyone who is physically weaker in any given situation, but when you are a woman in India numerous incidents of the same nature make you conclude that maybe it happens more to girls and women and especially on festivals like Holi.
The trauma of such incidents does not go away easily and I now realize that keeping women indoors and ‘safe’ is no solution. Why have we become so twisted that a festival has to be loud, noisy, drunk and ostentatious to be celebrated?
Whether it is Holi or whatever, do not adopt the argument that all is good in the name of a festival.
This post was first published at the author’s blog
Hands against bars image via Shutterstock
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"There is a story and a vision which makes us gravitate towards cinema. Even as we worked as assistants on ads, we realised that cinema was our true calling," say Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh Raseen.
The Railway Men. Mili. Cuttputli. The Diplomat. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. And more…
Let me introduce to you the talented designer duo who have worked on these, and can be considered today’s upcoming costume designers for the screen. Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh.
Having studied at NIFT, Gunpreet Kaur Mann sent her portfolio out to several designers. Her first gig was as an assistant stylist with Manoshi and Rushi, who also happen to be a designer duo. She worked on an ad film starring Saif Ali Khan and eventually landed a full time job with designer Vikram Phadnis. Years of experience as assistant costume designer followed, which eventually led her to getting a break.
A ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference in the way any woman in your life sees herself in your eyes. It might even mean the world to her.
I have not received any appreciation in the past. Probably never will. This is the experience of ample women across the globe. The expectation to be thanked for all the sacrifices she makes to keep others happy has faded. Yet the urge to hear few words of acknowledgement always lingers.
There is never a day when she pushes off her own burdens. She knows not to give up on people she loves. Women in general, are givers by nature and hence, give without asking anything in return. They have been the care givers and lovers since centuries however receive no appreciation.
It will mean the world to your mother if you answer her calls. If your sister seems lost give her a hug and assure her about her strengths. Tomorrow, there might come a day when you would have to make your daughter feel empowered with few words of wisdom every now and then. For the children to feel wanted and loved, you must be able to spare some quality time with your wife and be present in the moment.
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