This is a special series in support of the global #RingTheBell (BellBajao) campaign to end violence against women. The author of this guest post has chosen to remain anonymous.
I was 14, walking back from school, alone. It was routine to walk home from school as it was a mere 500m distance from my house. It was a hot, sunny day, and I just wanted to get home.
I saw a man walking towards me - he was tall, looked like he was in his late teens, and was quite presentable. Of course, I took one long glance at him and ignored him and continued to walk home.
And then, out of nowhere, I felt a hand grope my chest.
Shocked, I stopped dead in my tracks and wheeled around. This presentable young man was now walking briskly, still looking at me, with an almost evil smirk plastered across his face. No guilt. No remorse. No effort in even escaping the scene, as I was what, a 14-year-old school girl.
He then just turned and walked away like it didn’t mean anything. I didn’t know how to react as somehow, my body was confounded, and frozen to the ground. I felt disgusting, and I just wanted to get out of there. And I remembered what my Dad told me “If anyone misbehaves with you, and you’re in a public place, don’t let him go. Make some noise.”
So I ran after this guy, and upon noticing my chasing him, he sped up as well. I threw my only weapon, a 500ml nearly-empty plastic bottle of water aimed right at his head. My aim was clearly horrid, and since he kept looking back at me and running, he ended up tripping on my bottle and falling down.
I wasted no time. I gathered a crowd. I started screaming and wailing loudly. I stopped cars. At the same time, I kept kicking him repeatedly in his groin, and enjoyed watching him writhe in pain. People came up to me and asked me what had happened. I narrated the incident and 3 - 5 men, along with a couple of guards from a nearby army club beat the living daylights out of this man. They then asked me whether I wanted to file an FIR, but having been educated solely on Indian movies at that point and understanding that women would have it tough with testifying and filing a complaint, I decided not to.
The man was beaten black and blue, and he was in tears. Did I regret it? No. I felt zero compassion or any kind of sympathy towards him and thought he completely deserved it. If this happened to him for having misbehaved with a 14-year-old, I knew that he wouldn’t attempt it again on any other girl. That’s one less pervert in the world.
My advice to all women is at times like these, when something happens, when someone misbehaves with you/sexually harasses you, don’t be silent. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a movie theatre or a restaurant; it doesn’t matter if it’s a random stranger or a close male friend. You HAVE to act on it. Slap him, punch him, a kick in the nuts always works. Learn a few self-defense techniques, carry pepper spray, don’t put up with anyone’s ugly behaviour. If a friend tried to slap your butt at a party, and everyone tell you to let it go because he was drunk, don’t do so. Slap his face hard and tell everyone what happened. If your friends still think it was excusable, leave them. You can always find new friends.
Every time you remain silent about that man who groped you on the bus, about that friend whose hand brushed your behind, about a colleague who is ‘accidentally’ touching you, you are sending a message to these douchebags that this kind of behaviour is okay because you’re not doing anything about it. It just means that they can try that on some other girl too. You need to stand up and raise your voice. You need to tell him that it’s not okay. You need to slap/punch, do whatever it takes to ensure he doesn’t repeat it.
You need to make some noise.
If you would like to contribute a guest post as part of the #RingTheBell campaign, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.