Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
“Agar kissi cheez ko sache dil se chaho, toh poori kayanat tumhe use milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai.” ~ Shahrukh Khan in Om Shanti Om
(If you want something strongly enough, the entire universe conspires to help you achieve it).
That is exactly how I found Hollaback!
A few months ago, my best friend and I had gone out for dinner. We decided to stop by a bakery in Sector 9 for some dessert. While coming back home, we noticed two cars were following us. Having lived in the city for most of my life, I was quite used to it. Cars follow you on the Gehri route all the time. I would ignore them and eventually they would stop following me and start following someone else.
But that night was different. One of the cars just wouldn’t stop. I drove around for about fifteen minutes but they still continued behind us. They started hooting and tried to stop their car in front of ours. When this didn’t work, the guy in the passenger seat rolled down his car window and started making kissing faces. It had never reached this level before. We were completely in a fix.
We finally decided we couldn’t let this go on and had to go back home. I reached my house and parked in the driveway, appreciating the security of my home. The men in that car however, were not going to let us be. They started honking outside the gate and then actually had the audacity to enter the driveway! The ten seconds that we took to go from the car to the door were filled with panic. We were both literally running towards to door. Once inside, we looked at each other with fear in our eyes, trying to fathom what just happened.
I spent the night tossing and turning in my bed. I’d faced street harassment in the city many times before. But, this was different. I had never felt so vulnerable, so insecure, so terrified. This was my city. This was my home. And some random strangers made me feel s**t scared in my own home. I simply couldn’t let this go.
The next day, I talked to some of my friends. Surprisingly, everyone had their stories and most of them were a lot scarier than mine! Following, staring, commenting, even touching and molesting in public places. All of this was happening around me but somehow no one ever talked about it. It was easily swept under the carpet and all people would say is that ‘We’re used to it.’
I still couldn’t let it go. I’ve spent many years of my life working for human rights. The five years I studied law, I knew all my fundamental rights by heart. Every person has the right to be treated with respect. The right to walk the streets free from fear of any kind. The anger and helplessness I felt had to have a solution. There had to be some way to deal with this issue. And soon enough, I came across Hollaback!
Hollaback! provided us the ideal platform to share our stories of street harassment. It gave us a start, a perfect start in the right direction where instead of repressing such incidents people can get an opportunity to come out and share their stories and eventually take suitable action to prevent such incidents from happening again.
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