Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where does the fault lie?

Prewarning : this post is written in extreme anger. Some words and references may seem offensive but i dont really care. If you want to read. Go ahead. If you want to answer my questions please do. If you plan on getting judgemental and sling shit on me, the comments column is right below. Feel free.

Situation 1.

A 7 year old girl just done with her dance classes and is waiting outside her school for her parents to pick her up. Usually she stays inside but today she decided to stand at the gate and save the trouble for her parents to walk all the way inside the campus. It was a saturday afternoon and the road was deserted. She was waiting around playing with her pretty pink teddy bear. She looks up to see a man standing next to her. The little innocence in her failed to see what the man was upto. He was playing with her pigtails and asking her name and asked if she wanted chocolates. When she said No. He offered to show her something and promised to let her touch it. All she said to him was "uncle i dont talk to strangers and please cover your shame shame". Right at the moment she saw her parents at a distance and walked towards them unaware of what ever that just happened. It was only when she reached home and her mom asked her about the man did she realise that he was the bogey man that her mom told her to strictly avoid. And also the reason why she should stay in a safe place with adults around. She did not realise the gravity of what had happened to her. But since then she lived with the fear of bogey man who she thought never existed. The bogey man because of whom she could not go out to play alone.

Situation 2:

A 16 year old girl all excited to go to her grandma's place for vacation. And this was the first time her mom was letting her go alone. That meant travelling a 4 hour bus drive alone. Super excited she was standing at the bus stop waiting for the second bus. It was getting a bit late she realised. And she looked around to see a lot of passengers waiting. She hoped to get a seat but it looked highly unlikely, as the people at the bus stop looked like they were waiting for the same bus. She looked around staring at each passenger just to search for a familiar face. A creepy man was staring at her. She ignored him thinking maybe he was just reading the bill board behind her. Finally she heard the bus honk from a distance. She gathered her bags and stood ready. There was a huge rush of people trying to get into the bus. She held her bags close to her and tried to get in. She was only nudged between the crowd of people. Just when she found the foot hold of the bus and tried to step in, she felt an unmistakable hand on her chest. That creeped her and stunned her she stepped in, looked back and ignored it, maybe its just the crowd. As luck would have it, she did not get a seat. She had to stand in between a sea of people. The bus moved along taking along the sardine packed passengers. That very instance she felt someone holding her at the wrong place. She looked back, kicked her shoes really hard on the guy. Punched him too. And yelled a screeching scream. The bus stopped. The conductor came to her and asked her what the problem was? She was just perplexed and confused the guy was trying to run away. She pointed out to him and told them "he touched me." but before anyone could do anything that creepy man had disappeared. And the girl was given stares as though it was her fault. Like her clothes were the problem. Like the fact that she was the girl was a problem. They even told her to relax. Such things happen at crowded places. Too shocked by the reaction of the on lookers she reached home crying. And when her relatives asked her what happened. They threw a spat to never let her go alone anywhere.

Situation 3.

A 21 year old girl attended her first night out. A college party. She promised her mom she ll be home before 9. Considering that the city she lived was shut by 8 and bus services run only till ten, she made it a point to leave the party by 9. Still elated and high by the good time she had with her friends she got into her bus wrapped comfortably in her jacket she was all smiles. She got down at her stop and walked towards home. It was pitch dark and the lane looked deserted except for a few vehicles zooming by. A man came walking by her and touched her. Before she could turn back he walked away swiftly . She screamt a loud curse and that coward just ran like the wind. She traced her steps towards home and told her mom what had happened. The only reaction she got from her mom was a long lecture about going out for night outs and parties and walking the lonely road at night.

All these three situations could be Me or anyone for that matter. Everyone must have gone through such horrifying experiences. But then here comes the part that actually tears you apart. The stunned, helpless feeling that you did not do anything to stop it. The anger inside you that wants you to kill that person. You promise yourself next time you ll be careful. You ll hit back. But when next time happens its the same vicious cycle. You are stunned shocked and taken aback.

To everyone out there who has heard this happen to a friend or someone, am sure you gave this advice to them "You should have wacked the hell out of that creep". Trust me! not a good advice. Its not easy to fish out that pepper spray or stun gun right in time and disable the creepy men. First you are just stunned and taken aback. Next you feel numb and motionless. Your vocal chords give up on you. Your reflexes lose it too.

Do not ever scold them by telling them "You should never walk that lane alone". First things first sometimes even the lane well lit and with whole lot of people around incidents like this do happen.

"oh good atleast you are safe and you were not raped" thats the last thing a victim wants to hear. Yeah she may feel good that she is on the safer side but that can just give that person nightmares and trauma.

"Dress well next time". Like seriously? you think a 7 year kid wearing a frock is provocative. Its the not the clothes or the attitude. Its those perverted sense of brains that these creeps have. And its not initiated by clothes or the place or the time.

So someone please answer me. What pleasure do these uncouth men get by touching women and pouncing on them. And is it a woman's fault that she walked that lane alone, or she did not get a bus that was empty, or she preferred to wait at a bus stop than take an auto late at night?

Is this why we celebrate International Men's Day? That men are experts at getting creepy and scaring women?


Yulia D'Souza said...

well i'd like those questions answered too please......

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Can't say I'm pleased with what you say, but I admit, you have a valid reason to point out this state of things.

As a kid, I was a boy. I've been lucky too, to a degree. The way I grew up, I had little chance of having contact with strangers. However, I've heard horrifying tales narrated by friends of mine. Frankly, they're too many such tales out there.

As an adult, I've grown into a man. I've been in numerous environments such as you have mentioned in your narrative. Never once, have I been touched inappropriately. Again, I've learned from friends that I've been lucky. Apparently, a number of men also face similar situations.

What I find preposterous, is the fact that in almost every one of the tales I've heard till date, the victim is made out to be at fault.

(Mind you, the very word: Victim comes with connotations that I do not approve of in such a situation. I'll talk about that another day perhaps. But for now, let's go with 'Victim'.)

What alarms me the most though, is the fact that in almost all such cases, it is the victim who first points out (erroneously mind you) that they were at fault. It's not uncommon for the victim to say "I should not have taken that bus" or "What was I thinking? The lights in that corridor were out and I just walked on".

People have been groomed by society to think this way. To say that other people can tell us how to interpret a situation is not only stupid and senseless, but it also goes against any and all forms of conventional logic.

It is not the victim who is at fault. I see a lot of variables that are involved. The victim, the predator, the environment, the society and of course, the seldom blamed, never proactive, and sometimes after-the-fact custodians of the peace.

[Continued in next comment due to blogger restrictions]

Anonymous said...

[Continued from previous comment due to blogger restrictions]

There may be other variables I might've missed, but I'll go ahead with what I have. Of all these variables, the only one not at fault is the victim. All the rest need a serious face-lift to how they think and act.

I'm sorry such things happen, and I know for a fact that males are not the only predators out there. I've actually seen a woman harass a guy in a sexual manner in my line of sight. The guy never complained to anyone. He just swallowed his pride and walked away with a tear in his eye when the woman was through and moved on. If he had made a scene, he'd probably be in more trouble than he would have wanted.

Either way.. Men make up perhaps 99% of such cases. Or at least the reported cases. Who knows what the real figures are. How many men and women keep their mouths shut due to some pressure or the other?

I'm male. I could propagate such modes of harassment on other people, but I don't. I have my theories about why people do this, but I also admit I'm not qualified to expect others to accept what I have to say. In other words, I keep my thoughts to myself there.

I don't celebrate my Brithday, I don't celebrate Deepawali, I don't celebrate Holi or Id ul Fitr, I don't celebrate Valentines or even Mens day. Nevertheless, I do feel sad when I hear about these things.. Sad and pissed. But I do not ever feel sad for being male.

I hope you get my drift. We're not all evil, some of us are'nt. What I do not approve of, is the notion that only men do it, or only women suffer such things. It's more about a breach of human civility and an inability (or unwillingness) of some to control themselves.

I'm not going to argue against your take on the issue, since you make a very valid point of view that stands well all by itself. I respect the fact that you see the situation through your own perception and plate it out with conviction that most people would be scared, or to take it a step forward, would be terrified to put forth.

I wish more people put their minds out there and curb these kind of vile tendencies in our society.

I'm a coward at heart and have trouble taking the stand on my own. But I know there are lots of people out there who would bite the rag and do what they can to get things moving. I hope someone does.

Hugs.. I hope you feel better in time.

Madhu said...

Excellently written...each n every line of ur views at the end were so so true..u just spoke my heart..i think the biggest punishment 4 such sick men (specially those who target infants n kids) should be castration!!! only that time they will realise wat they hav done n will beg 4 mercy n they will never get..i m too angry reading the incidents,specially the 1st one n expressing my anger out pardon my words...

reddevil said...

Read this at 5 am in the morning. I generally don’t reply to blog posts but your anger really hit me hard.

It is really sad that women all around the world face this perversion. But it is more sad that there is very little that society can do to bring these perverts to task. The men who get a kick out of violating an innocent girl's modesty are mentally unfit or have had such issues themselves during their childhood. How do you really know who these perverts are until they are caught in the act?? This never really happens in practice. Even if these men are caught, do the victims really have the courage to stand up to the scrutiny of society and bring them to book??

Your post raises a hell lot of questions than what you have raised. It is not a woman's fault that she chose to walk a lonely street or was caught unaware in the bus/train...but sadly the best we can do is avoid such situations. It is not a woman’s fault that her dressing sense arouses the beast in such perverted men. But again…isn’t prevention better than cure?? I might sound cowardly when I say this or a typical male but believe me…it is the best we can do. I also have a sister who comes back from work alone. It is really scary knowing that such perverts are roaming the streets with freedom.

And please not all men are perverts...there are many who would sacrifice their lives to save the modesty of a woman. It is like blaming the entire Muslim community for the unwanted acts of a few Muslims.

I know your questions are unanswered…I sincerely hope they do get answered.

Phantom said...

@angiasaa i beg to differ here. Not everyone will think that this is just one bad apple there are good apples out there. Not when you are in the situation. But yes the anger in you will eventually make a coward a strong person indeed.

@madhu dont worry i have been spewing angry words since yesterday. I even wrote out a swear here but had to cut it out. It was pretty offensive. It makes you angry does it not. How i wish it gave us all the power to stop being helpless.

@reddevil thank you for stopping by. prevention cannot always be the cure. Its like saying stay in fear. Never let your guard down. Be cautious forever. Whats life if you have to live in that fear forever. Dont these perverts ever have fear? What even goes inside that brainless head of theirs that genders such actions?

@yulia i dont think these questions will ever have answers

Anonymous said...

A few honest thoughts on this:

Unrelated it might seem, but IRONICALLY, the name Phantom and this content do not quite go hand in hand. In every situation, you have 2 options: Be the victim or save the victim. Phantom used to do the second one.

From what I know, read and heard, I think these acts of perversion begin from a suppressed desire. When you deviate from the natural path, this is what’s bound to happen. Although our society has well loosened up, I think there're sections that still look down on issues like dating or pre-marital relationships. Let’s face it- you can’t bake the cake and eat it too. Much like our education system, our society seems to erode because the centuries old fashioned way of thinking just won't work anymore.

Coming back to your own problem presented here, I remember reading something about Indian women. Two major faults of the Indian woman are: 1. She's Indian 2. She's a woman. I read this somewhere. I'm inclined to think that the societal expectations from Indian women make little or no sense.

As with aggressive dogs on the streets, one may have to deal with them on a case to case basis. Humiliation certainly helps. If you take a look at how the soldiers perform in battlefields, one very clear finding is that when faced with a familiar situation, you would perform subconsciously because you were trained to do so. You don't think, you just do it. Perhaps if people develop this kinda mechanism for such situations, I'm sure incidents like these would certainly go down.

I think another useful trait to possess would be to develop an indifference to what others have to say. It helps to remember that you're born this way, only you can fight your battles. Ships are safest in the harbor but that’s not what they're built for. People lead significantly different lives and so things like 'Don't dress like this or don't go there' may not make sense but at the same time, when you do choose to go that way, make doubly sure that any risk you face can be dealt with. Its a simple thing- you can either choose to cocoon yourself in your room fully clothed or you can go out, kick ass, have fun and fight your way through. You can either let them touch you and go sulk OR you can punch them back in their face. Be prepared for the consequences in any case though personally I'd prefer to punch him and then do the talking coz that'll give me the feeling of going down after a fight. Personal preferences again.

My personal fav quote that I abide by:

"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way."

- John Paul Jones (later adopted by the US Navy's Special Boat Units)


reddevil said...

Yeah I know what I said sounds really cowardly…that we should live our lives in fear of such perverts. But alas…that’s the way it has been so far. I’ll also accept that I don’t have the power to really do something about this menace except spread awareness and ask my near and dear ones to maintain caution.

And most of these perverts have been through some sort of humiliation or molestation themselves as children…most of them are just empty shells. It gives them some sort of a high that they have the power to scar an innocent life.

You can't really answer these questions you know…

maals. said...

Hey very well written... we all are looking for answers to similar questions i guess.. i think the one way we can make a difference is by bringing up our future generations with better values and respect (for self and others) and being open about sex education and related issues. It is also important as women to stand up against sexual harassment of any kind and not tolerate these things.. it is also important to be alert and act rationally in such situations. and yes i agree with u, we shud not be judged on how we dress, talk or the time of the night we chose to be out...cause that is not an excuse for any of the perverted actions of some lecherous men.
The recent gangrape of a woman in Delhi stands as a testimony to the safety of a woman in our country... she was not partying, she was just coming back home after a days work... its not about the time, dress or anything like tht. It is the perversion of the mind coupled with the laid back reaction of the society and authorities to issues like sexual harassment, rape, gender discrimination. I feel the change has to come within each individual. It is time to bring out sexual harassment (of various forms and certainly not gender specific) out of the closet.

Aswin said...

Well, for one, I have to defend the mother in situation #3.

In her situation, her first priority is to safeguard her child. No one can say if this society will change, and she really has nothing in her control in that situation except the girl's schedule.

Might not be the right way out, but in her shoes, I can't see her ignoring this or doing anything else about it :(

I know... sad state of affairs.

Phantom said...

@maals. And what brings this perversion of the mind? My question. What does a man get by being so perverted in seeing a woman walk alone.

@aswin. I beg to differ. The mother was being a paranoid woman and yes she did find fault in her daughter. My question is its not the time of the day that prevent this. This could have happened in broad daylight, will the mother still be denial over that then?

Riazuddin said...

cant say anything..

i cant give a comment.. u knw being a 'gentleman' i felt before these things are nothing and the gals should 'enjoy these things, ' .. but it was when i was not old enoygh. i had no idea what these things actually are.. how it should feel like.. realised when i heared more terrible thing happened to my sister.. i love her more than anything else, c s nt a blood realtion for me..
u knw where c was abused?? in a police station.. yeah from the law makers.. c told me long after it happened.. c was so scared about it.. sometimes i do feel like i shouldnt have get a life of human.. so bustard we are..
keep up your work , mam

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