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Let me live without fear of being raped or abused: A school girl’s open letter

In the last part of our Let’s Talk About Rape series, a school girl writes about the daily harassment and fears she faces.

delhi Updated: Dec 22, 2016 12:27 IST
Bindiya Vishwakarma
Bindiya Vishwakarma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Let's Talk About Rape,Crimes against women,Sexual harassment
Bindiya Vishwakarma, a Class 12 student, hopes for a world where girls do not have to live in fear and worry about their safety. (Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo)

Eight residents of Delhi write open letters discussing sexual abuse and rape. In the eighth and last part, a school girl writes to boys her age.

To the boys on the street who think it is okay to pass comments when we pass them by,

The other day, I was walking down a street with a friend when you decided to catcall us. You thought it was acceptable to pass lewd comments. We were just two girls; you, a gang of boys. We decided to leave as fast as we could because we were scared. Hours, and even days, after the incident, I kept racking my brain, trying to figure out what could I have possibly done to attract such attention from you. Do you see what happened? I was blaming myself for something that was absolutely no fault of mine. I was scared, not because I was doing something wrong, but you were.

Most girls I know, who are of my age, are living in fear. An entire generation of women is afraid of your actions, and what you might be capable of.

How will we not be scared? Not a day goes by when we do not wake up to the news of minor girls being raped by their fathers. Or students being molested by their teachers. Or grown women being assaulted by religious leaders. In our country these men — father, religious leader, and teacher — are revered as gods. But, these people are not gods.

It is because of people like them, and even you, that women have to think twice before stepping out of their homes. Yes, you are not that different from these criminals.

You were kind enough not to attack me, but the fear we face when we hear you say vulgar things and see the look in your eyes, is just as bad. It is not just us that you frighten.

Our families restrict us from going outside our homes because they worry that we might become victims of such incidents. Our parents constantly check on us to ensure that we are still safe.

“If we complain, we have to answer questions like what we were wearing, what time we were out, were we alone and was it a ‘safe’ part of town.”

See, you might not be used to answering questions like why you passed lewd comments, but if we complain, we have to answer questions like what we were wearing, what time we were out, were we alone and was it a ‘safe’ part of town.

Sometimes I think maybe our parents would prefer to be childless instead of having daughters. Can you imagine having to live life wondering if your parents are troubled by your mere existence?

Yes, you frightened us that day. But what is worse is that we face such incidents on a daily basis.

I have my entire future ahead of me, but I worry about my prospects when I read the newspapers. I have come across multiple reports suggesting Delhi has more cases of crime against women compared to other states. I used to think that young children might be spared. But the newspapers are full of stories about girls as young as 3-4 years old getting raped.

Then I tried consoling myself that I just need to keep myself safe until I get a little older, but I read there was an old woman who was raped in Calcutta.

Are we not safe at all...ever? It feels like that day is not far away when our survival will become difficult. Sometimes I feel like crying at my own fate, my only fault that I was born a girl.

I have tried to pen down a few verses to help you relate with how we feel:

Kahi nahi hai surkashit hum sab, Chahe bazaar ho ya ghar

(We are not safe anywhere, whether it is at home or in the market)

Kaise hoga, kab hoga in zulmo ka ant

(How and when will this violence end?)

Kya hum sabko sehna hoga ye jeevan paryant

(Will we have to bear this till life’s end?)

Hume bhi jeene ka haq hai, hum nahi jeeyenge ghut ghut ke

(We have a right to live and we won’t live in fear)

Kahi nahi hai surkashit hum sab, Chahe bazaar ho ya ghar

(We are not safe anywhere, whether it is at home or in the market)

I hope for a day that girls are no longer frightened by your presence, your looks, your comments, or even just your presence.

I hope that every girl finds courage within herself to tell you off and fight back. Above all, I hope that you mend your ways.

Scared, but hopeful.

A teenage girl,

Bindiya Vishwakarma

The author is a Class 12 student and a national-level football player who hopes to coach the women’s team some day.

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First Published: Dec 22, 2016 12:26 IST