Since as long as I can remember there have been ladies seats in the buses and also there has been a strong opposition to them from the male gender. I remember travelling in buses to and from college and hoping, before every time I entered one, to find a place to sit… hoping that one of the ladies seats is empty. It was not because I was very tired or that I had a huge bag with me, but because I didn’t want to be touched or groped. I didn’t want the man sitting next to me to fall on me on the pretext of sleeping… I didn’t want the man standing alongside me to lean against me when the driver hits the brakes. I have lived in Delhi all my life and trust me, I have never felt safe travelling or being alone, outside of my home that is. And I know for a fact, I am not an isolated case. There are many like me and this is the sad case of our ‘Mother’land. If you are a woman living in India, the sooner you get to know that you would be molested, the better it is. By making this statement, I am not condoning these acts. But, I am just trying to say that the sooner you know about it, the earlier you can do something against it!
I know of many cases wherein a seemingly innocent bus / metro ride turned into a groping session. So, when I found out that the Metro had got a separate ladies compartment I was very sad. I was sad because I had left the city and would not get to use the benefit of travelling in the metro without a man falling all over me!
What bothers me more is the psychology behind all this? Many men who do it are not hooligans but college students and middle-aged men going to work. I can’t understand that why would a man, going to office on a normal day, want to do that? What does he get out of it? Cheap thrills?! What does he think while getting on the bus – who should I fall on today? What prompts a man, a father, a husband and a son to stoop so low?
Many times the finger of blame has been pointed at the women. How many times have I heard people blaming the woman who had been sexually assaulted by saying things like she doesn’t dress properly or she called it upon herself for wearing something like that. Why it is that it becomes a woman’s fault for dressing up in a certain way rather than a man’s who couldn’t keep his hormones or testosterone in check?!
I dare all the men who keep ridiculing the need of a ladies compartment to dress up as a woman and travel in the buses and metro for a day. It doesn’t matter if you are wearing a skirt, a salwar-kameez or a sari; it doesn’t matter if you are the most beautiful woman or some average Jill; it doesn’t matter if you are young, middle aged or old… rest assured you would be teased, taunted, made lewd comments at, groped, touched inappropriately, whistled at, leered at, jeered at and maybe even followed. After that one journey, I would want you to answer…who is the weaker sex? The one who is trying to live her life on her own terms or the one who can’t keep himself in check?
This Post was originally written and published as a guest column for The Viewpaper - The Voice of the Youth.