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Girls, trust your instinct on how you feel by anyone’s action that doesn’t take your consent into account, and raise your voice against them.
Let us begin this with a question.
What age were you when you faced the first form of harassment? I guess most of us would be in the ages of 8-12 or even younger. But it must have been ‘eve teasing’, or a random uncle giving a hug?
How do we differentiate the different forms of harassment, and what can even be considered harassment in the first place when there is ‘groping over the clothes without skin to skin contact’?
We all have been victims of this. Some random stranger: boy/ man/ uncle/ old person/ feet hanging in the grave, singing lewd songs. While we have been told that the person was singing to himself, why does it happen that his singing starts only after seeing a girl?
With technology, this has even changed a bit. For example, these people now play songs on their mobiles while passing. While we may want to call out this behaviour, how many people in India are willing to punish such behaviour?
Have you ever encountered this: you are walking/ driving and a car/ bike/ truck coming in your direction swiftly swings towards you before changing their direction? This at times is accompanied by comments/ singing/ loud music and so on.
Recall the case of the UP girl killed due to such incident and her case being ignored by all.
A friend once said that her father’s friend used to squeeze her back and neck, because these are the things that can be done in public without batting an eyelid. These things are nothing more than weird fetishes and things that even when done in front of your parents wouldn’t invite ridicule but they form a part of sexual harassment.
A friend of mine told me about a certain party where at least 3 of the family friends squeezed her cheeks so hard that she almost cried. (She was skinny and 25 then)
In my college, I noticed a few guys having this weird habit of touching the hair of girls (Apparently, they belonged to a country where girls were not allowed to show hair in public, another explanation of the patriarchal mindset for men’s behaviour ).
Beware of people doing that, it’s another way of someone’s fantasy getting fulfilled.
They can be so relieving when you want them, and yet so disgusting.
When a person hugs you in a wrong manner, they will try to grab your body as much as they can. The difference between a friendly hug and a sexual one is something that every girl might be able to understand.
Even a kiss on the forehead or cheeks can be weird and creepy, when done without consent by people known to a girl.
It’s almost habitual for girls to be stared at in public, especially in the chest area. Let me tell you, this is not normal – if people are ‘just looking’.
Question yourself, have you caught your father staring at your chest? Why should any other man be treated differently?
A girl is nowhere alone whether she walks/ rides/ drives, or goes out for a run. She’s expected to stay indoors so that she’s not followed. And often this is so normalised by our films, even considered a sign of ‘romance’ even when a girl is not interested.
But why can’t we stop the guys from going out instead? Maybe just once a month?
Dear parents, don’t even think that your daughter, or even your little son is safe if he/ she is on someone’s lap, because pervs don’t see the gender. They just need a body to exploit.
A touch/ sight can tell many things about you. It can also tell many things to the person at the receiving end, and it’s all in the mind of the person who is at the giving end. No one wants to be touched/ looked at inappropriately and without consent, ANYWHERE.
What can be done? A lot!
Sexual assault is not just penetrative sexual intercourse that rape is mostly defined as, but also the things a girl faces almost daily and keeps quiet because these are ‘little things’ or ‘your virginity is safe’. Talk to any girl and she’ll tell you about things on which you can write a book.
Girls mostly find themselves alone in all this, owing to the trauma they would face if these things are brought up in public. Let me tell you one thing, if a known person is harassing you, he’s probably going around telling stories about your character/ manners in order to be protected if caught.
Please do not be afraid; trust your instincts. They are true to you. From the very start, learn to call out such behaviour, especially in public. Even if anyone shames you for your clothes or anything else, please speak up. You will regret it if you don’t.
If you find yourself caught in such situation: RUN. As fast and as hard you can. Learn self defence, and teach your future kids too.
If you’re a parent, keep a good watch on your children and whose laps they sit on, no matter WHO they are. Teach your children (girls and boys) about the distinction between a good and a bad touch. Let them be aware of their surroundings and the good and bad of it.
Parents, also make sure you actually LISTEN with empathy when your child, especially a girl, comes to you to tell you about these things happening to them. Don’t invalidate or pooh pooh their claims.
Why do parents do this? Because they know that we will be blamed for someone else’s actions and that no one would listen to us. But as girls, we fail to empathise and start hating other women ourselves, and all this gives rise to the belief that women are women’s worst enemies.
Let us ignore even our mothers if they tell us to ignore our issues, and instead build a new society of women who call out such behaviour no matter what people think.
Teach your sons the importance of equality of genders, menstruation, sex, and what constitutes sexual harassment and what should not be done. Punish him if you ever find him indulging in such behaviour. Teach him to respect every woman and not just his relatives.
Responsible sons would make a society which can be trusted and respected by every person.
Dear men in my life and every other woman’s, we are counting on you to make each one of us the proud women that we deserve to be.
Image source: YouTube
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