Monday, March 06, 2006
THE BLANK NOISE PROJECT PRESENTS BLOG-A-THON 2006 TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT STREET HARASSMENT
Please go read their site and add your voice to those opposed to street harassment!
I found out about the blank noise project, while meandering around India related blogs. Curious as to what it was about, I started reading about it. Despite having left the country of my birth more than a dozen years ago the highly reprehensible phenomenon of “eve teasing” or sexual/street harassment that women are subjected to is something one does not forget.
Having lived in a country that is so different culturally from India, some phenomena (like eve teasing) never seem to occur here and one sort of tends to slot them away somewhere in the recesses of the mind and it becomes something one does not think about.
But one only has to visit India and one might see this kind of harassment of women in public places, especially in and around public transit systems and one realizes that it has not gone away.
I am sure a lot of other bloggers as a part of the blank noise project will offer different perspectives about sexual harassment or eve teasing. The complex factors that go in to it, issues of gender, power, cultural influences and so on. That being said this is a truly horrendous experience especially for the women who have to undergo it. It has to stop and that will start by saying NO!. This is not just saying no to the perpetrator(s) of it, but also to oneself that no one can be silent about it. If you see it happening, try and stop it, if you experience it say no whether physically or verbally, It’s a long battle but it must be fought, for no society will truly realize it’s self worth without the full realization of the potential of it’s women. Sexual harassment is one of the many impediments that must be removed to reach this goal.
As a male what do I have to offer? I am not going to give those standard reasons about how not all men are bad and so paint not with a broad brush. Instead I am going to attempt to offer why as a male growing up in India, I was able to be on the right side if this issue. One is often shaped by their experiences while growing up. Some of these are definitive experiences, episodes that remain seared in your memory forever. They stay with you and they shape your opinions and your world views. I will recount one such episode which happened when I was around 12 years old, that I witnessed when I was at home.
We lived in a building that was adjacent to a street that connected to a train station in Bombay. As such it was used by everyone who used the train including school kids. My mom had gone out with my sis and I was expecting them back shortly. We would often try to look out of the window to see them coming. It was a common thing for us to do, especially when my dad got back from work. So I was doing the same thing. It was afternoon and the street was quiet, when I saw this girl “Jane”, she was about my age. I knew her as she was the daughter of a shop owner close by, as we used to go to him to get our clothes stitched or even laundered.
As she was making her way back home from school there was this guy, probably in his 20s who was walking towards the station. As I watched in shock and then horror, he proceeded to grab her breast as he walked by. She was shocked and I remember her recoil in horror. The whole episode lasted for a couple of seconds. He then walked away as if nothing had happened towards the train station. “Jane” looked around, there was hardly anyone on the street, and then she looked up to see if anyone had witnessed it.
I am not sure if she saw me but I will never forget the look on her face. It was a mix of anger, shock, and revulsion. I knew what I had witnessed was wrong but I was shocked too and I seemed rooted in place. Though I did not know it right away but I had witnessed street/sexual harassment. I continued to crane my neck as she walked away towards her home. Maybe I was trying to make sure she got home safe. I also proceeded to look in the other direction praying that my mom and sis would not have to deal with the creep. I remember feeling a sense of relief when I saw them come home shortly.
I did see “Jane” a few times after that before we moved away from that part of Bombay. I don’t know what I could have said to her as a 12 year old kid who could barely comprehend what had happened. I still ask myself what could I have done that was different?
That is my 2 cents worth, I hope it helps in some small way in raising awareness and fighting street harassment.
Posted by karmic at 10:42 PM