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Story of a two-wheeler

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The idea of two wheelers in an era of seventies to nineties often used to conjure up lovely thoughts. In fact, riding a two wheeler in an era when beetles or bollywood songs like zindagi ek safar hai suhana or koi na koi chaheye shot  on two wheelers were fascinating to watch.

All of us know that our priorities and preferences change with time so do our choices. Today the idea behind buying a two wheeler is mostly to facilitate our lives making it frugal and convenient. Two wheelers are popular for personal transport, partly due to being more affordable, easy to operate and more convenient to park and store than a car.

One of the best things that has happened with this two wheeler is that women folk are now counting on it as their preferred mode of transport. Owning and driving a two-wheeler gives them a sense of freedom, empowerment and above all a sense of security while commuting. It looks like a perfect solution to their untold ‘miserable’ stories that many of them encounter on daily basis while commuting.

Recently my household maid bought a brand new scooty. She hardly earns enough to make her both ends meet. I felt concerned for this poor lady for having set herself in  the debt trap. So, I expressed my concern to her. With a deep sigh she revealed something that not only took me by surprise but also convinced me to her idea of purchasing a scooty.

Let me share her ordeal in her own words narrated to me.

She said, “It was a Saturday afternoon, I was travelling in a bus near one of the busiest market places in Srinagar, which is always dotted with huge crowd people from all walks of life. I was intending to get down here to make some purchases. As soon as the bus stopped, passengers began to flood in. I tried to push and nudge my way out. As I got down, a strange intuitive feeling was sensing me that  someone was piercing his gaze on me, following me right from the bus . Out of blue he  held me from behind and vulgarly touched my body in most disrespectful way as if he was going to rape me in the crowd. I felt the blood rush to my head, boiling and fuming. Within fraction of seconds, I recalled all those  horrifying incidents, when I was abused or eve teased by street Romeos.”

According to her, she gathered courage and  all she could think at that time was not to let go off this person. “I turned around and screamed at the beast who  was right there gazing at me like a predator. He seemed to be a professional molester or rapist and before I could slap or drag him he  managed to escape. I begged with the crowd and even requested a cop who was present in the crowd to help me to catch the man. But nobody came forward. Instead they were enjoying the scene,” she said.

It was disheartening, as she stated, to watch most of the crowd making video of her plight. However, the disrespect shown by the man for being she and the insensitiveness of the crowd witnessing all this happening as mute spectators, provoked her to follow the culprit. “I held the man with his  collar and slapped him repeatedly as hard as I could before he pierced his nails deep into my arm, leaving me injured. I was shocked to see behaviour of the crowd watching that culprit escaping and my hands profusely bleeding. Neither my screams nor my bleeding arms  had any effect on their waxed ears.”

The young women was even criticized for a ‘creating a scene’. Even some one in the crowd shouted: “After all it was not a rape but simple incident of eve teasing.” This incident has left her paranoid as she always ‘feels’ someone following her with ‘bad intentions’. Even as she feels insecure on roads, being only bread earner  leaves no option but to venture out of home for earning a livelihood.

While listening to her I was completely shaken and torn apart . I was astounded by the audacity of this ‘beast’ to behave in this manner. One can imagine the harm such people can pose to a society. We always educate  our kids   to speak up whenever  somebody touches them  without their consent  .  We  tell them that silence is just not ok it always paves a way for encouragement of the abuser..

On the contrary, This lady chose to speak up against the odd  but she was asked to  shut up and burn the pain inside . The lack of support from the public made her paranoid forever at the same time it helped the criminal to get away easily and encourage him for his next prey. The people belittled her confidence and courage. She wanted to fight against it but she was made silent on this pretext that eve teasing is a normal thing and it should be taken on a lighter mode rather than making it a public affair or else it will bring shame to the woman.

Now the action of this brave woman and the response of the society has raised an important question. Is it shameful for a woman to resist eve teasing and inappropriate touches?

(The author is Associate Editor at INS)

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