My heart fills with uneasiness each time I hear the news of a rape or molestation. Naturally, for lesser mortals like me, fears are centred around myself rather than others. Thus, what frightens me is a growing distrust, fear and disgust towards men – the view that every man is a potential rapist.
I understand the fear of women quite well as I have been molested. I know very well how bad it feels. This was during my B.Sc days (more than 10 years ago) while I was travelling in a train to Pune. I had an RAC ticket, but there were plenty of empty berths, including the side lower berth I was sitting on. It was night. I talked to the TTE regarding a berth for myself. He came and sat next to me, and promised me that he will give me a berth at the next station, which will come in less than an hour. I was prepared to wait. He was sitting next to me and after some time he rested his hands on my thigh. I felt uncomfortable and tactfully removed his hand. But, it soon found its place again on my thigh, slowly sliding up. Once more I removed his hands tactfully. In another five minutes or so, it again landed on my thighs. Furious by this time, I held his hand tightly (enough to hurt him, hopefully) and stared at his face for a minute. Thankfully, he stood up and left. However, he never came back and as a result, I did not get a berth until much later when the next TTE boarded the train.
Frankly speaking, I did not even understand what had happened to me. I know it is unbelievable, but I grew up in quite a protective environment till my undergraduate days – a frog in the well.
The TTE was a man in power, and I was just a berthless traveller. Moreover, people might not even believe he molested me. He can scoff at it saying that it was completely platonic – men touching men and women touching women are apparently fine for many. I was quite powerless.
I know this is a minor incident compared to most molestation cases. Nonetheless, I feel, this has and will help me empathise better with others molestation victims. All this was to explain that I do not underestimate the gravity of the crime in question. However, these crimes are committed by a small minority of the male population (certainly less than 1%), but the rest of us are also facing the consequences. I will explain using another incident which affected me at least as much as the former incident.
This incident also happened in a train. Apparently, the side berths in the ladies coupé in a train can be allotted to men. And I was unfortunate enough to get this seat. I went there, sat on this seat and started chatting on WhatsApp. There was this girl who kept staring at me – I knew this because every time I lifted my face from the phone I could see it. And it was this dirty glance. After few minutes or so, she asked me, quite rudely, how dare I sit in a ladies coupé. I showed my tickets, she was not satisfied. She kept on expressing her displeasure for quite some time. Finally, I just got on to the side upper berth that was allocated to me and slept off. But it was extremely uncomfortable.
Is not being an object of fear/disgust even worse than being an object of lust?