Tuesday, September 2, 2014

SPEAK UP DELHI

‘Why would this girl lie? After all she is taking the blame on herself’, said the police officer to the criminal infront of me.



                          It was a Saturday afternoon I had lunch with a friend in Gurgaon before I decided to head home.  The metro for those who do not take it or belong to Delhi can get crowded and air tight to an extent that the Tupperware guys could take inspiration. I luckily managed to find a seat till Rajiv Chowk metro station (Connaught Place) where I had to change my train. The doors opened… Btw I was in a regular and not the women’s only coach – why is this little detail important for this post? Well the answer lies ahead.

So where were we? Yes, the doors opened and people began to flood in. I tried to push and nudge my way out but no luck. With a huge sigh I decided to get off at the next station - New Delhi. As I positioned myself close to the exit door I felt a sense of unease run through my body, like someone has pierced their gaze on me or someone is watching me. Suddenly I felt something touch me from behind. With half my mind on trying to get off at the next station I turned thinking it was someone’s bag or hand touching me repeatedly. I turned to see a man in a white kurta (long shirt) staring right at me and he had no baggage with him. In fact both his hands were clenching the railing next to him.  But if both his hands were up there what was it that… I got my answer as soon as I lowered my sight. There beneath that long shirt I could clearly see that this man was UNZIPPED. I felt the blood rush to my head, boiling and fuming and fury ran through every nerve in my body.

Within that fraction of a second every single eve teasing incident, every darn face of those guys who had the guts to molest someone I know flashed in my mind. Before I knew my voice escaped my lungs and there I was screaming at the man who dared to mess with me.

‘KYA problem hai?’ (What is your problem?)
‘Kya samjh rakha hai saale?’ (What the hell do you think?)
‘Himmat kaise huyi teri?’ (How dare you?)

These were some of the things I uttered looking right into his eyes. He was startled and started blabbering that he is sorry and insisted that it was his hand that touched me by mistake. Your ‘HAND’ that comes out from your pants? How the hell was your zip open? I was screaming in a coach full of men and women. Did anyone come forward to help or even displayed basic courtesy to ask me what was wrong? The answer was a big unsurprising NO. I turned and spotted two men in fact smirking at me. Their silence tried my patience and ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

I held that (namesake) man’s collar and dragged him out of the train. He was on a loop mode ‘It was my hand, it was a crowded train’. The moment we set foot at the platform he managed to escape. I ran, with all the strength and courage in me, I ran after him making as much noise as I could. A few saw (the tamasha), the others gasped while one man in the uniform began to chase him. I went towards the other side and we managed to get hold of him. I yelled again How dare you? How did you dare to touch me? People like you make Delhi a nightmare for girls? You make us question every time before we step a foot outside. HOW DARE YOU?

People watched the guards dragging a man to the control room and a girl screaming at him. They only watched.

As we took him to the control room he told the police that I am mistaken, it was his hand that touched me by mistake and it could happen to anyone because it was a crowded train. “Ask her… it was my hand”, he said. 15 guards, all men turned towards me as he tried to shame me. But if he had the guts to do it I had the spine to say it. You see anger brings out the strength you never thought you had in you but in my case anger brought out a language I never thought I could use. I was outright and I had all the right to be – “Lift up that kurta and you will know exactly what touched me”. There. I said it out loud and clear. The guards felt outraged and charged at him. Within seconds he begged for an apology and suddenly the hand in question transformed into a part of his body he wished he never had. “Why would this girl lie? After all she is taking the blame on herself”, said the police officer to the criminal infront of me. He committed the crime, I raised my voice and yet somehow the shame was on me. That statement reflected the thought process of our society, in fact it said much more. I argued with the officer and told the man in question that I have lost NOTHING in this entire episode and in fact I will make him pay for this. He immediately begged for an apology and I instead, insisted to file an FIR. After a few calls, 5 friends of mine reached the station to back me up and how? They were equally angered and showed no mercy.

We moved to Kashmere Gate police station and I slapped a sexual molestation case against him. He was arrested and put behind bars immediately. I decided to not let this one go and appeared at the court on Monday to record my statement in front of the magistrate. Meanwhile this man has been moved to Tihar jail and will spend his time behind the bars until he gets bail.

You see there are several measures being taken to make our public spots and transport safe. Someone asked me as to why I did not take the women’s only coach? But honestly that’s not a solution. These reservations in fact paint the idea that it is not ok or safe for women to be in public spaces. It's debatable, I know but are reservations really improving the situation? Then what would?

I think the answer lies within us. Unless women put forward that is not OKAY for someone to touch and get away with it, nothing will change.

I could just bite the bullet and accept that I was eve teased or molested. Or I can raise my voice and instill the fear in the criminal instead of victimising myself.  If this man has the guts to unzip in a metro full of people, he probably started off by doing something less offensive to another girl. Her silence was his encouragement. Remember every time you choose to ignore or walk away, you put someone else in danger. 

So I urge women to respect their body and know that it’s okay for you to say that someone touched you without your consent and you have to muster the courage to reach out to the police. I insist please for the sake of womanhood – SPEAK UP!




34 comments:

  1. As much proud as I am for your sheer courage and guts, I am infused with anger as well. Proud of you, hope this instills some confidence in all the girls as well as becomes a lesson to all those who have audacity to do such things. It does reflect upon the archaic mentality of our society as well and the isolated world we are living in. I guess we did infact gloablise but in the due process we isolated ourselves from each other and hence turn our faces around when see such instances happen. Delhi indeed needs to speak up..its high time.

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  2. Well done. I just wish that every women should instil the same spirit and may be blessed with enough oppurtunities to resist. Law enforcement and women empowerment can only be strengthened by Government, Women and Public co-operation. This story should be more and more shared and publicised so that these morons fear the law and anger of every individual. Well done Bravo!!!

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  3. No words after reading... just GREAT JOB... it is inspiring... I don't know if i would have done the same if i was in your place, but got courage to do so in future definitely...

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  4. Brilliant post.... I'm speechless... Hat's off to your guts....

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  5. You are my real life HERO. I wish more women get inspired to be as courageous as you. Bravo.

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  6. I sincerely want to thank you all for the support, shares & helping me spread the word!

    Honestly I was in two minds about putting this up because what had to be done was done. But the more I spoke to people the more they revealed their personal experiences, which only made me realize that is probably important for me the spread the word. People have been extremely supportive and astonished by this act. But isn't that discomforting in a way? I mean shouldn't this be the obvious thing to do and ideally we should be shocked if a woman chooses to ignore such a crime.

    Having said that I want to add that the Delhi Police was extremely cooperative and proactive in handling this case. Just to give you all a quick update – the criminal’s bail plea has been rejected. He continues to spend his time in jail.

    Humbled

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  7. Megha, what you did is amazing!!! completely agree with you on not compartmentalizing (quite literally here) men and women but teaching men to behave themselves around women

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  9. Thank you for first of all doing what you did. All of us are so proud of it and ever so grateful to you. Thank you again for deciding to write this. I know it would have taken the same amount of courage to write this as it took to stand up against what happened. I don't have much to say except that please don't stop being courageous, no matter what happens, and that I'm grateful to have such strong women in my country.

    PS: Fellow APJite here, so frigging proud!

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  10. I am Hansraj and Ashish's acquaintance. I happened to see them share this post and I must say you are brave and courageous to have done what you did. I have heard it said that "it is not the severity of the punishment but the certainty of it that deters crime". Sadly in most cases it's the certainty of the lack of punishment that emboldens such criminals. You have my respect and admiration.

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  11. Wonderful, Megha! I am ashamed of all the menfold who were witness to this drama and still did not speak up. When will this country rise up, Oh God!

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  12. I am very proud of my grand-daughter Megha. I wish all girls in India are as brave and fearless as you. God bless you.
    Kamala Krishnamurthy (your chinna paatti)
    kamalchel@gmail.com

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  13. Feeling really proud of you Megha!! You really did it by opening up and raising your voice!!
    I have heard of similar incidents from my friends travelling in Mumbai local train but as you rightly said no one has spoken up or have just kept quiet and have let go things. Hats off!!
    Sangeeta

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  14. its jus too brave Megha...I am not amazed by what you did...but amazed by the quickness of your mind & action.When such incidents happen,its often found that for a moment we are lost,& by the time we recover, the culprit runs away.You have inspired many other girls.Totally agree with what you have said someones silence can put someone else in danger.Few days back I was touched by a man who was on his bike n I was walking along with my sister,at first I jus could'nt utter any word,n then I screamed,that made him nervous n he actually stopped because may be he didn't expected this he might have done this before with many other girls,& noboady must have objected that's what gave him so much courage to do this. While was sister hitting him on his back,I was standing still coudn't move,she didn't know excactly what had happened,she only knew he has done something wrong,but all this happened in jus2 min & in all this I didn't noted down his vehicle number,he was wearing pollution mask , I didn't see his face,When he realised he is in danger he jus started off n went away.He WENT UNREPORTED if I would have noted his nunber,today he would have been behind bars.The thought that I didn't punch him,hit him hard is pinching me from many days.But I have learnt n promised myself if ever again something like this happens I will kick his groin, smash him off.Bravo MEGHA.

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  15. Your courage is inspiring Megha. But at the same time it's very saddening to know that someone can stoop to such nauseating levels. Perverts like him don’t deserve any place in our society.
    I will like to quote a recent Court judgement in a rape case, “This human has become lunatic, morally demented, incapable of self-government, and that upon him , therefore, must be passed the sentence of permanent seclusion from a world in which he is not fit to be at large. ”
    In my opinion, this judgement should be handed to all the people who believe that they can outrage the modesty of a woman whenever they want, and then put the whole blame on her.

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  16. taking the cue from your ending lines, I would add, not just for the sake of womanhood, but also for the sake of Manhood please wake up, being a Man i find nothing manly in this kind of behaviour.

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  17. Thanks so much Megha for your inspiring act..we want our Hindi reader also know about this courageous act. A leading hindi news paper wants to cover this story can you please mail me at deepa.pathak@gmail.com..so that i can have your email ID to take this further. Thanks and regards

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  18. Very well done Megha! Thanks... your act sends a very positive and encouraging message to society. :-)

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  19. Hats off megha! well done dear specially for the instant action and boldness! Many of us get upset and forget to react, later feel.Your post comes as a great inspiration.Specially liked the words "Remember every time you choose to ignore or walk away, you put someone else in danger." well said!

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  21. Megha ur done great and courage job.But the people around u in train and station not supported at the time of incident is the concern.People should think silence in such incidents leads to crimes towards women .Once again I appreciate the dare, courage of u in chasing and handover the culprit to police.

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  22. Read full story of Megha..you will not bealive I am shocked that from where you gathered all the strength and courage to do this. Any normal girl would have helplessly ignored the act and moved on. I am sure that this is not only you but your upbringing also and the values that you parents has given to you...hats off to you and your parents!!

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    1. Thanks Preeti. We hardly contributed. It is all Megha’s presence of mind even in anger and courage shown.

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  23. Inspiring! You did what most people talk about and/or dream about!

    I've shared this post on http://proactiveindian.com/2014/09/10/inspiring-response-by-woman-molested-on-delhi-metro/ with the introduction, "I am reproducing below the text of Megha Vishwanath’s blog post SPEAK UP DELHI. I decided to share it on my blog because what she did is an inspiration to anybody who may face a similar situation."

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  24. Most of us just talk and brood, do nothing about it. Hope girls remember you when they go through this type of harassment in the future.

    I had gone through this many many years back when I was working and travelling by bus. Like it is happening now, no one came for help even if they saw the men misbehaving with girls. I was using an open safety pin to prick them, that was all I was able to do. Admire you, Megha.

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  25. Delhi has continued being this way for decades. Only now, girls have more courage to speak up and book the molester. Like Sandhya above, I used a sharp umbrella to push away the lecherous fellows and kept shouting at them to move away. No one came to help or ask the fellow to move. Such stories need to be told so that other women will have the courage to come forward to raise their voices and make a complaint. Kudos, Megha.

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  26. Megha- I salute your Spirit to stand up to this - You have encouraged and inspired other women to break their silence and raise strong voice against harassment and crime. Its not just the physical assault and unsavory remarks but nonverbal assaults - winking, whistling, and lewd staring are equally ridiculous. According to National Crime Records Bureau, the fastest growing crime in India is violence against women. Though, we have grown by leaps and bounds yet the most basic structure of society is showing no signs of improvement. I can just hope it improves atleast a bit….


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  27. Hats off Megha! I may not know you, but you truly inspired me and brought me the courage not stay mum to anything happens to me without my consent. If I don't speak for myself then who else. Thanks for spreading the strength. More power to you lady.

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