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The Staring Eyes, When Will They Stop?

I think some men enjoy making girls/women uncomfortable by staring at them. It happens very openly, even when we are with our family, in public places or in those places we consider safe.

As a child, I would find it very funny when someone would stare at me. They would stare very often because of my club foot but I never realized that.

Sometimes I responded with a smile and at times I made people uncomfortable by staring back with curiosity.

I am not sure when it happened, but it did, and I started feeling uncomfortable with men staring at me. Maybe the looks they were giving to a teenage girl were different from the ones they gave before, to a child with clubfoot. Those eyes made me squirm, sweat and also feel a chill in the spine. A fear would rush through me.

Though I tried to argue with myself that if I did not look at those men staring at me, I wouldn’t even know they were staring, it failed completely. Somehow I could sense when it happened and then the trauma would begin.

I think some men enjoy making girls/women uncomfortable by staring at them. It happens very openly, even when we are with our family, in public places or in those places we consider safe. Don’t even ask me how I feel if I am alone and I find a man or a group of men looking towards me with the eyes that talk trash.

Suffering in silence

I have never been the weak, scared person since my childhood, but somehow I ended up suffering in silence. When we were in a group we gained some courage to ask them what they were staring at, but it went nowhere with different arguments thrown back at us. One guy even accused us of staring at him and making him uncomfortable!

Slowly, I learned to just look away and not to look back at the person staring. I wasn’t even sure whether they continued or not. But, just looking away and pretending not to be bothered did not remove the uneasiness which I felt but did not show.

Recently at the age of 56, after an overnight trip on the bus, I woke up to the fresh morning of Bangalore. I pushed away the curtain to enjoy the morning activities of people. Soon, the pleasant experience became too boring due to the traffic jam.

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Then, I saw a girl in her uniform waiting for a bus, squirming, pulling her skirt down and looking awkwardly here and there. It reminded me of my own uneasiness when I found someone staring at me. Looking around I saw a man in his sixties lighting up a beedi and looking at the girl with lewd eyes. Unashamed, he enjoyed the discomfort he was causing. Soon the bus moved, but the heart was left with the girl.

When will it stop?

At the next traffic signal I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found a man staring at me. I thought someday this would end, but no. It was as though he wanted to evoke the discomfort, uneasiness in me.

Angered by the discomfort of the girl I had seen just a few minutes ago, I gave the man a very angry look. I did not feel uneasy, but only anger flowing through me. Soon he started fidgeting and he felt uneasy; then, as though losing a battle, he looked away.

I realized I could have done this earlier but something had stopped me. So, finally, I was free of the unwanted trauma at the age of 56. I hope this is a permanent thing and not temporary due to circumstances.

When will street sexual harassment in different forms stop? When will the girls really enjoy the freedom nature has bestowed on them but society has snatched away?

Top image is a still from the Hindi movie Tere Naam

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About the Author

Farida Rizwan

I am Farida Rizwan, 55, Counselor and Psychotherapist working as Senior Curriculum Developer with Chimple Learning. I am ardent blogger @www.chaptersfrommylife.com and share my life experiences of surviving breast cancer 3rd stage for read more...

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