International Anti-Street Harassment Week: Rajina’s Story

They taught me man is a social animal. That, humans were always chained up with social responsibilities and rules in the society. What they failed to mention was, the rules, responsibilities and stigmas are higher and thicker for women.

If I don’t speak up and respond, I am considered as the silent weak link someone can use for amusement as I wouldn’t dare complain. If I am brave enough to speak up, I am categorized as being too smart and being told “she deserves it”.

Everyday, thousands of girls travel via public vehicles and in Nepal, that is probably the main place where eve teasing is at its worst. The conductors are either naive little children made fun of by the passengers or keep showing their so called masculinity by harassing the lady passengers. It is not an unusual thing to a conductor picking up lady passengers and calling names and more, when they get off. The other passengers don’t help either. A lot of the times, there are reports of male passengers misbehaving with the female passengers. They abuse them verbally as well as physically if the vehicle is loaded beyond capacity and there isn’t really anyone who notices or does anything about it.

And if you are a capable driver, the situation isn’t actually easier for you. Be it guys playing around with their speed and not letting you drive safely, or ones walking on the road throwing out vicious comments, it doesn’t change much here either.

As South Asians, we like to distinguish ourselves through our festivals. But what’s disgusting is, some of our own festivals encourage hooligans. Like for example, during Holi, a Hindu festival, also called the festival of colors, a girl would feel terrified walking on the streets by herself. She never knows when a plastic bag or balloon filled with water (a lot of times colored or dirty) is thrown at her from nowhere. And that is not even on the exact day of Holi. This starts a week before the actual festival. She cannot get angry and shout, as people are only going to throw out more vicious comments at her, or more balloons and plastic. And she cannot walk away quietly, as it does nothing but encourage the other hooligans a few steps ahead to do the same. The general responses to these incidents are always insensitive, such as people saying, “Well, it’s Holi. You shouldn’t have come out of the house if you didn’t want to play.”

My brother, 3 years younger than me and with completely reckless friends is allowed to come home late night. But with a daughter, the same trust and permission is never allowed. It’s not the parent’s fault, as the news everyday about high cases of rape and stories of street jerks never seem to lessen. And a lot of girls do not dare going against it either. Because, of course,being called names and sometimes bumped into by drunk men is definitely not better than staying home with a curfew.

When I say all that, I obviously do not mean to say all the men on the road are devils on earth. There are people out there who I know would never do these kind of things but a lot of them wouldn’t raise a voice against it either.

And as a girl, representing thousands of other voices, I want to raise one question to all the jerks out there. Is it fun? Throwing balloons on random girls in the road? Calling them embarrassing names? Making the girls feel like it was their fault to have been walking on the road? Does it feel nice doing all the cheap acts? Not knowing your deeds are only encouraging the same incidents for your own sisters and friends and daughters?

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