Saturday, August 23, 2014

Understanding the 'Small' & 'Big' of Rape Cases

"One small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us billions of dollars in terms of global tourism." – Mr. Arun Jaitley (Finance & Defence Minister)

I completely empathize with one of our senior most ministers - Mr. Arun Jaitley’s, apparently ‘misconstrued’, remark of referring Nirbhaya’s rape case as a ‘small incident’ which most definitely, had cost our government billions of dollars in terms of global tourism.
I absolutely understand that by the virtue of his gender (which understandably, makes him rather inept at relating to his opposite sex’s issues), he did not really realize how much scope he left for people to ‘misconstrue’ his remark of addressing a brutal rape case as a ‘small incident’.
So much was I intrigued by his skewed yardstick of sexual harassment, that I felt compelled to explain the difference by sharing a personal experience that I generally avoid recounting.
This effort is in the combined interest of ignorant people like Mr. Jaitley who essentially require enlightenment on the ‘small’ and ‘big’, ‘significant’ and ‘insignificant’ types of sexual harassment against women.

This was a few years ago when I was a student who had to commute to and fro from Ghaziabad to New Delhi for studies. It was the peak of summers and as usual, on a scorching hot afternoon, I boarded the regular blue line bus (route number 543) from South Ex. to Anand Vihar (Delhi-U.P. Border). Since it was during the afternoon rush hours, the bus was jam-packed with school and college students, teachers and other passengers. Anyhow after 10 minutes or so I managed to get a seat in the row that happened to be towards the middle passage in the bus. I settled in the seat and started reading a novel that I was carrying. Being towards the passage side, I, like every other person in that particular row, had to adjust with the pressing bodies of the people standing in the middle of the bus. Now being on the ‘ladies only’ side, I wasn’t too hassled by the uncomfortable pressure from the fellow passengers as most of them happened to be females only. So I was engrossed in my novel, absolutely indifferent to the world around. I was wearing a sleeveless kurti that day and as I kept myself busy reading, I felt a slight sensation of something faintly cool rubbing against my bare arm a couple of times. However, too taken up by the novel, I didn’t really bother to check what it really was. More so, because I had already assumed it to be a water bottle in one of the ladies’ bags who were standing pressed against me and my seat.

It was only when the smoothly paced bus suddenly stopped with a thud at a red light that I looked up from my book. Looking out of the window, waiting for the bus to move, I felt that cool sensation again on my arm. This time I turned around to see what exactly it was. For a second it didn’t register but when it did, it freaked the hell out of me. It was a bare p***s set against my arm’s skin. I looked up in horror and saw a middle aged man smiling down lecherously at me with his p***s still pressed against my arm.

I don’t know what happened in that moment. I was horrified to the core, but I didn’t scream or yell for others to get hold of that man, I just froze. Froze and instantly dropped head long onto my lap. No movement, no words, nothing. Like a lifeless rag doll, the upper half of my body dropped onto my lap, motionless.

The lady sitting next to me perhaps sensed something as she saw that man rushing out of the bus. Don’t know what but, she spoke very loudly to the fellow passengers after that. She rubbed my back for 15-20 minutes and later gave me water to drink. I got back to my senses only so much to identify the stop where I had to get down. In a daze I took another bus from Anand Vihar to Ghaziabad. Numb all the while and scared to death to be stalked by that man, I somehow managed to reach my home.

It was only when I reached the confines of my home that I felt the sense of life in me again. Without a word, I straight away rushed to the bathroom. There was half a bucket water in there that I started pouring onto my arm frantically while also starting the shower and the tap. I rubbed my arm rigorously with soap to somehow get rid of that disgusting sensation which just didn’t seem to fade. It felt sick and dirty to have stuck to a pervert’s skin, to have momentarily become a means of pleasure for a mentally twisted person. I kept rubbing my arm, washing and when the soap didn’t seem enough, I rubbed it with a hard bristled washing brush…and kept rubbing it till my arm started bleeding. It was only after my arm bled that I felt a little less sick.

So here is the thing:
What happened with me was a 'small' incident. I wasn’t raped. I wasn't murdered.

A pervert had only ‘touched’ my skin, which, as compared to rape, is not a big deal. Though despite being a ‘small’ incident, it has gotten stamped in my head permanently. Today, it is because of that ‘small’ incident that I don’t feel confident enough to move around in crowded places. I doubt strangers and have become unreasonably wary of men in general. It’s just that much that a ‘small’ incident of sexual harassment can affect a female...
...and so what happened with Nirbhaya on the night of 16th December, 2012 was certainly not ‘a small incident’, it was not, for obvious reasons.

1 comment:

Deepa Roy Chowdhury said...

Disgusting....something like that has to be dealt with by every girl...every woman of this is definitely not a small incident...not this one...not Nirbhaya's one...Mr 'Defence' Minister ...are you listening!!! Its not a small incident in any way....

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