I’m so sick and tired of hearing about degenerate leaders of insignificant religious, political groups spouting nonsense about fashion and how it influences indecent behaviour. I’ve been interning in Bangalore for about four weeks now and daily my girlfriends and I have new stories to tell each other about our commute. We’ve seen men lech at us, follow us and shamelessly check us out every day even though our clothes cover our entire bodies (Hear that, Mr Azmi?). The Bangalore incident has only brought to light the murky underbelly of the world we live in filled with pervy men we see around all the time. My PG is an unsafe area where after it’s 8.30, you won’t even see many women on the road, just creepy local men watching your every move as you quickly make your way back. I have walked on the road with my friend in broad daylight to witness men on bikes whizz past me close enough to almost touch me only to quickly change lanes before I can see their number plate. The walk to the bus stop and the commute to our offices is an uncomfortable ordeal because we see men lech at us and there’s nowhere to go to escape their eyes.
You and I are privileged enough to be able to avoid situations like these by taking private modes of transport and living in safer, upscale areas but this isn’t about you or me. What about the innumerable women living out there who can’t afford it? Who have to live all their lives afraid of their own shadow?
The Bangalore police commissioner Praveen Sood said that the police checked camera footage from 45-60 CCTVs that night and found no evidence of the mass molestation while here I am, sitting in my office listening to my friend talk about how he was at Brigade road and MG road that night and saw so many unruly men grope and push women around right in front of his eyes and he yet, he was helpless because he couldn’t even move in the crowd. The density of people in that area was so high that you couldn’t stand still even for a second, the crowd would move you along with them. My colleagues and his friends lost their shoes in the crowd, unable to make the slightest effort to bend down and pick it up because they were sandwiched between so many other people in that small space but sadly, many women lost more than that- their faith in the system and their safety in this country we call progressive.
I’ve had so many people advice me to keep a pepper spray or a knife handy for my safety but what I do when I feel so disgusted when I catch a man leering at me? Can I use the knife to gouge his eyeballs out? because I really wish I could do that. I know you’ll probably tell me that some colourful words ought to put him in his place but am I wrong to feel scared to do that because I’m afraid the consequences could lead him and his friends to stalk me to my Pg and take revenge when I’m at my most vulnerable?
The Bangalore Molestation incident you’ve been reading about in the newspapers and watching on news channels happened in the same area where I’m working at right now. Just a few meters away.
My colleagues tell me that they’ve heard of so many incidences like these but they’re just inconspicuously brushed under the carpet so no one gets to hear of them.
These cases don’t happen to everyone, we might still argue that it’s a small percentage of these incidences occurring- An average of 6 rapes and 15 molestations daily but anyone could become a statistic and that’s a scary reality we have to live with.