While I was wondering whether should I drift apart and write about something different, other than ‘women empowerment’ this week, this strange incident happened to me.
I didn’t want to talk about this altogether, but just so that people out there know how the world is, I will talk about it.
One Tuesday, I’d gone to this bustling area in my city. I drove for almost 15-20 minutes from my place to reach there and wanted to buy a few stationery requirements and get a few pictures printed. The areas I’m talking about are full of youngsters. Any time of the day, you’ll find youngsters strolling by, taking a bite at the cafes or simply sitting by shops and talking. Thus, my point being the area I’m talking about is NOT isolated.
Here, there is a complex which is famous for student workstations like printing and photocopy centers. I’m a regular visitor to this complex and thus I’m not a stranger.
That one day, on Tuesday when I happened to go the shop I always take a print in, the shop was overcrowded. People were waiting for their turns and it felt like it would take a whole lot of time for my turn to come. So I decided to go to the same shop’s other branch, which also lies in the same building on the ground floor.
I went down into the shop and pushed the door back. There were four men inside, one of whom I’d seen many times (as I was a frequent visitor to the shop). As soon as I went in all then men started looking at each other and smiling. One of them looked at me and smiled. I felt that because they knew me as regular customer, they were just maybe being cordial. But as and as things went by, I didn’t really feel cordial AT ALL.
I told them I wanted to print a few pictures and needed to take them out from my email account. I also repeated the statement saying I’d need to access my mail, so that one of them would clear one of the computers there and allow me to do my work. But none of them moved.
One of them said “Ha kar lo.” (Yes, do it). But he didn’t get up from his place nor moved his chair behind.
I retorted rudely saying, “Kar lungi, agar woh thoda hat jaaye toh.” (I’ll do it, if he moves away from there.) This probably hit himand he quickly got up and went aside.
I don’t know why, but by then I was already shivering. My hands and legs felt weak and I felt extremely uncomfortable.
I somehow managed to sit downand started my work. Just when I was working, the man on the computer beside me, tried to reach for something across me on the other side of the table. Initially, I thought he REALLY needed something and thus wanted to search for it and didn’t feel anything wrong. However, he just ended up fiddling with the papers over there and moving his hand behind. As if nothing was ever required.
I started feeling even more uncomfortable now.
All I did was, log out my mail, recheck that it had been logged out and LEAVE.
Just when I was leaving that guy, who’d tried to reach for something across the table asked me, “Kyu nahi hua?” (Why your work wasn’t done?) I just nodded and LEFT.
Yes, I literally fled. And for about 10-15 minutes I was crying in my mind. I felt horrible. I don’t know how to even explain what I felt.
“Chedna” as it is popularly termed in Hindi, is just another word given to “Eve-teasing”. It is just another thing that happens in this world, but is unfortunately concealed from our conscious awareness.
What really scares me is that there are hundreds of women out there who are facing worst kinds of oppression. They’re being forced into prostitution, they’re being beaten. They’re turning victims of crimes like domestic violence, marital rape, or just rape. They’re suffering from consequences that are inhumane and brutal just because, they are women and in a society like ours, women are secondary citizens.
I decided to write about this and share this little incident with everyone, only because I wanted to give a message to the hundreds and thousands of women being oppressed, in any corner of the world.
Dear fellow women,
We are of the same kind and I understand you. I’m here to talk whenever you want and you can address me anonymously. But please, speak up. Trust me, speaking up feels better. It feels better then letting it all stay within you. I want you to speak up, for yourself and for every other woman in this world.
Do not be afraid, you are strong. Every female, is born with strength – physical, emotional and mental. You just have to believe in your strength, my dear women. Once you do so you will love life and you will learn to stand up and most importantly SPEAK UP.
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