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This morning I read a harrowing account of sexual harassment and victim blaming on the Delhi Metro. I can’t really say I was shocked but it definitely left me with goosebumps. As if the sexual harassment wasn’t enough, the continual victim blaming just made it sound like an awful experience. I felt angry and frustrated for her, the same way I’ve felt in similar situations so many times.
Incidents like this anger me to the core. I am highly appreciative of the fact that she stood up for herself when no one else would. I’m not so sure I would have been able to respond to the barrage of victim blaming as well as she did. I also appreciate the fact that she chose to share her story with the world.
This isn’t a one-of-a-kind incident and anyone abreast of the news would know this. Someone tweeted that he actually found the incident a bit funny because he had seen a lot worse. I learnt long ago that ranking sexual harassment incidents doesn’t serve any purpose. It is incredibly scarring for the person involved whether it is a cat-call or a stare or rape. The underlying issue remains the same – that women are not entitled to be treated with respect and dignity.
Stories like these have immense power. I posted the link for the story yesterday on Facebook and Twitter in the hopes that awareness would be raised and this young woman’s courage would be appreciated. Eight hours later my twitter feed is full of intense conversations about the incident. Many have shared their own experiences. Others have shown their solidarity. And I hope a few might have been inspired to stop engaging in street sexual harassment and victim blaming.
If you’ve faced street sexual harassment or eve teasing, please share your stories. You can share them here or on your blog or by telling your friends, whichever way you feel comfortable. It might encourage someone to speak up the next time something like this happens. It might encourage someone to respond in situations where they might not have responded. And it might encourage someone to start treating women with respect.
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