‘Man touched meinappropriately in a bus’
I hail from Ambala and pursuing English Literature in Chandigarh. For this, I travel to and fro daily. This harrowing incident took place during my first year in college. I boarded a crowded bus from Ambala on a Monday morning. I was standing and suddenly a man, in his early thirties, offered me a little space on his seat. I sat next to him. After 15 minutes, I had an unusual feeling. When I moved my bag from my lap, I saw the man, sitting next to me, touching me inappropriately.
I immediately got up from the seat. As the bus was packed to the hilt, I stood next to his seat. The man repeated the action. I had tears in my eyes but could not object. I wish I had scolded him then. No place is safe for women.
Simran Dhiman, Ambala
‘We were told not to wear short clothes’
I used to think that women who venture out alone are usually harassed. But an incident altered my thought process. After my Class 10 examinations, I along with four friends went to attend a party at a friend’s house. After a while, we all decided to go for a stroll in a park in Mohali. We five friends were enjoying ourselves when three youths started following us. We quickened our pace to leave the garden but the boys kept following us. One of them passed a lewd comment. We approached a couple standing across the road for help. Shockingly, the couple asked us to wear jeans and Punjabi suits instead of capris when going out. We left the spot in a state of shock. We never discussed the incident with our elders. But, ever since, I feel weird wearing short clothes when going out with a group. It is shocking that some people think that wearing short clothes invites harassment. People need to change their mindset.
Ishita Agarwal, student, St Xavier’s School, Chandigarh
‘women should not wear handkerchiefs’
Women should be careful all the timeWhy do women go to unsafe spots or isolated places? Incidents of crime against women have increased manifold. Girls go out with their boyfriends to secluded spots and get into trouble. Only they are responsible for any untoward incident happening with them. Also, women should dress appropriately and not wear ‘handkerchiefs’. They should not go to late-night parties and should stay home. They need to be careful with whom they go out and where. Be it malls, markets, offices, shopping complexes, roads or buses, women are harassed everywhere. CCTV cameras should be installed at public places. If venturing out alone, carry some safety equipment. Clubs should be shut down after 9pm. Women should not use public transport at night and use their own vehicles.
Vishavdeep Dhaliwal, medical student, Chandigarh
Security apparatus needs to be strengthened
The HT campaign on ‘Safer Tricity for Women’ is commendable. This was the need of the hour. We need to make the tricity safer for women. Police presence needs to be upped at vulnerable spots. This will make women more secure.
Deepak Garg, software engineer, Tech Mahindra
Boys also unsafe, face sexual harassment
I am 42-year-old. When I was 14-year-old, a weird incident shook me. There was a man in our locality who used to keep at least 30 pigeons as pets. He had kept them on his terrace. Every morning and evening, he used to feed the pigeons. Being a bird lover, I use to often visit his house. One day, he held my hand and indulged in an obscene act. Shocked, I stood there speechless and returned home after the terrible ordeal. The man repeated the act the following day. Though I did not disclose the incident to anyone, I was shaken by his audacity. People should educate their children to object to the indecent advances of strangers. Not only children but women should also raise their voice against any wrong-doing. After a span of 28 years, Hindustan Times has given me a platform to voice my opinion wherein I could share my experience. Parents should educate both boys and girls on issues concerning sexual harassment.
Vikas, via email
NEED FOR MORE REFORMS
Cases of sexual harassment are rampant. We keep reading horrific tales of sexual abuse in the newspaper every second day. Women travelling in buses, trains and other forms of public transport are always at a risk of being harassed. Don’t we need reforms to improve the present state of affairs? I think legislature, executive and judiciary need to work in unison for the security of women.Dr Vishavdeep Kahlon, MBBS physician, Chandigarh
Nation ranks third in Rape cases across the world
Women in the tricity as well as across the nation are not safe. Several incidents of eve-teasing, molestation, kidnapping and rape are daily reported from across the country. The Delhi gang-rape — wherein a 23-year-old student was gang-raped in a moving bus in south Delhi — still haunts people. Even after the incident, rape cases have increased manifold. The nation ranks third in rape cases across the world. As many as 79,468 rape cases are pending before different courts in the country. As per a study, one woman is raped every 34 minutes. There have been cases of fathers raping their daughters, besides children as young as 3-5 years old being raped and murdered. Rape has become India’s fastest-growing crime. But what is more shameful that the conviction rate is only 26.4% due to lengthy and tedious legal procedure. A large number of cases are not reported. There is no protection for rape victims. The culprits should be awarded death penalty. The legal system needs to be strengthened. We need stringent laws for eve-teasing, molestation and other sexual offences. The youth should be educated on moral values and ethics.
SK Khosla, secretary, Chetna Manch, Chandigarh
Punjabi songs have explicit lyrics, instigate youth
Cases of sexual harassment are a blot on our society. Obscene songs and movies instigate the youth to behave in an undignified manner towards the opposite sex, which leads to sexual harassment. It is unfortunate that no study has been conducted on this issue till now. Some Punjabi songs have explicit lyrics. Parents don’t dissuade children from dancing to such songs. There is urgent need to have censor board in Punjabi music industry so that things can be kept under control.
Panditrao Dharennavar, assistant professor, PG Govt College, Chandigarh
Women armed squads a welcome move
The constitution of the women armed special protection squads (WASPS), in the tricity is a welcome move. This will lessen incidents of crimes against women. The woman commandos should interact with women and girl students and educate them on how to deal with difficult situations. They should be provided with the latest weapons and vehicles.
Ranjit K Chandan, Balachaur
Girls, avoid late-night parties for your own safety
Incidents of sexual harassment have increased in the tricity. Women in Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar don’t feel secure. Though these cities have high-class markets, hotels, pubs, youths indulge in rowdy behaviour. It is unsafe to go to late-night parties where men consume liquor and pass lewd comments. Both college-going boys and girls throng such places for enjoyment. But incidents of eve-teasing and sexual harassment are frequent at these parties. Girls and women should avoid going to late-night parties for their own safety. Several drunken brawls have broken out between men over women. It is better to enjoy at home.
RK Kapoor, Sector 46-C, Chandigarh
men should be taught to respect women
I don’t think death penalty or strict punishment is the only solution to check crimes such as sexual abuse. There are similar laws for crimes such as murder, but that does not make our society crime-free? Boys need to be taught from a young age to respect women. They need to be told that women are an integral part of our society and should be respected the same way as men. This should be a part of basic education such as good manners and etiquette.
Vertika Singh, via email
Parents should act as role models
The law maker, the rapist, the killer, the stalker, the victim, the judge —everybody is a member of society. But when an untoward incident is reported, people indulge in blame game and don’t introspect on what went wrong. Perhaps we’ve reached that moment in our lives when more introspection and better inter-personal behaviour is required. Parents need to act as role models. Home is the first school. Children should be taught to respect women from an early age. This way, when they grow up, they will be more responsible towards women. But do we welcome the birth of daughters compared to the jubilation for sons? Do we offer equal education and job opportunities to both? Do we involve both in household chores? Do we teach our children to differentiate between right and wrong? As wives, mothers and sisters, do we object to any form of domestic violence, verbal abuse or lewd behaviour from husbands, fathers and brothers? The questions are basic. But answers complex. These issues need to be addressed not only by families but also by schools, religious institutions and governments. Parents need to check their children.
Chinny, Sector 19-A, Chandigarh
Know rights, no wrongs
With rapid urbanisation, women are increasingly venturing out of home, taking up jobs, pursuing higher education. However, they continue to be soft targets and face harassment in the form of eve-teasing, molestation, abduction, rape and even murder.
India today proudly proclaims its position as one of the foremost democratic nations of the world. However, it is yet to accord due respect and rights to women.
The democracy here is meant for people who have power, authority and financial means to protect them.
It’s a bitter truth that our society always tries to bludgeon women into taking the vow of silence against violence or abuse, which is partly a result of gender bias that considers men to be superior.
There is no place where women can feel safe and walk down freely – be it public transport, workplace, markets, bus stop, a friend’s place or party.
The horrifying Delhi gang-rape case shook the nation’s psyche and created furore in India and abroad. Anger spilled on the roads and protests became the norm.
A year has passed but now what? Has anything been done to ensure safety of women post that gory incident? Do women feel safe going out? The answer is ‘No’; nothing has been done so far and any similar unfortunate incident can take place any moment.
There is need to bring about a revolutionary change wherein people from different fields should join hands to end this menace.
Awareness programmes should be launched that stress upon the need to respect women; educate people on their importance in society and most importantly, emphasise on providing a congenial environment to women.
Women should learn to raise their voice against harassment. Training in self-defence should be mandatory in schools and colleges.
Police patrolling should be increased in sensitive areas, especially during night, as a majority of women work in late night shifts.
Companies employing women for the graveyard shift should take measures to ensure their safety, besides providing free pick and drop facility. Cops should be deployed in civil clothes at vulnerable areas to ensure safety of women. A majority of women experience eve-teasing and molestation in public transport. Special buses for women should be started. Women should be educated on their legal rights. Women helplines should be made functional to provide immediate help to those in distress.
Dr Shruti K Chawla is a Chandigarh-based freelancer
share your story
It’s a matter often discussed in drawing rooms, but seldom does it lead to introspection. HT invites readers — male and female — to write in with their experiences, personal and witnessed, of sexual harassment. You can choose to keep your identity hidden, and try to write in not over 250 words. Keep in mind, each story will add to the collective consciousness of a society that needs cleansing. Play your part. Talk to us at firstname.lastname@example.org