Run Lola Run
Have you ever been in a situation where you and another person are physically present at the same place at the same time, but he is fine while you feel hunted and stalked ... ?!?!
The other day, I found a man following and trying to stand very close, under the pretext of examining items on display at a store. There was tons of space so knowing what was coming next, i wandered away each time he came too close for comfort. After 10-15 min of "dodge-the-creep", I got fedup and hoping he would go away on seeing me with another man, I returned to stand next to AP who was busy enjoying the antics of a kid playing with a weighing machine. Even so the creep was audacious enough to saunter next to us (near me actually) and listen in to our conversation. Irritated, i strode up to the weighing machine, banged my fist on it and looking at AP said, "Yeh dhai kilo ka haath jabde se connect hoga toh bahut darrd hoga kya? - Will it hurt a lot if this 2.5 kg fist connected to a jaw?"
Prone to exaggerate quite well, AP went on about how i broke his shoulder the other day, hand-two months ago, blah, blah.... I didnt choose to correct him that the last time he had fractured his hand was as a kid, rather, i enjoyed his exaggerated claims as the creep standing next to him was putting as much distance between us as possible. I don't find anything wrong in re-claiming my private space. On our way home I told him the whole story. So even if two people are physically present, each one is poles apart in terms of what we experience.
Back in Bombay, M and me were climbing down the stairs to the platform one day, when a train pulled in at the station. A wave of men rushed up the stairs from the arriving train. Now overcrowded places are perfect spots for men to misbehave and blame it on the crowds. Usually i use a blocking technique we had learnt in karate but yet this creep got an opportunity. In a flash i turned after him and wove my way up the stairs (i was going down) through the milling crowds, with one mojri on my feet (the other one having slipped off in the bustling crowd). After a few hundred yards when few people were around us, i (barefoot, silent) reached him and was amused to see the shock on his face on facing me. As he crawled away I turned and the crowd around me had frozen in time for a moment, then it was life as usual....all this in less than two minutes.
If ever a victim musters up the courage to question her attacker, the first question (accompanied with an insolent leer) will be "batao, maine kya kiya? (describe what i did?)". Now which woman would want to describe the horrible creepiness she has been through, just so that the perpetrator can embarass the victim even more in public... most women i know prefer to curse a few bad words and walk away, with the assailants laughter or snigger or taunts echoing in her ears.
It would be impossible to pen each incident as i know its not the last and moreso I didnt experience anything different from what every woman in India whether she is from a city, town or village has at one time or the other in the course of her life experienced..... molestation, harassment in public or verbal taunting. Defined by Indian laws as "eve-teasing", each Indian woman is expected to tolerate and not retaliate. If a creep thinks he can physically assault me in public he should be prepared to take a fist to his face peppered with some very colourful language. In public, most men will not help because many guys think it happens to other women and never one's own....which is farthest from the truth.
Try this, ask each woman in your life about her experience and she will have a story to tell. Most women are embarassed to talk about it and have come to accept it as a part and parcel of daily life and frankly when one is groped, pinched, brushed by, verbally abused or commented upon almost on a daily basis, women tend to get stoic and desensitised to the reality of violation of the individual's private space in public spaces.
As for taking legal recourse, its an absolute waste of time, money and energy to approach the police or courts for eve-teasing and harassment complaints. Absolutely nothing positive will result from that. When I heard of the blanknoise project (IMHO, they propagate and advocate passive tactics which very few Indian men will understand) in Bangalore, I thought why does Bangalore need it ... its more spacious than Bombay (and less crowded) so with space available men will forget to accidentally bump, grope, brush against women. Err.. i was/am wrong.