Teaching a lesson

Setting example

Tu billi jaisi smooth hai re, janu

”, a catcall that only caught Roshini Gurumurthy’s interest because it was completely original, she says. “On most days, you hear random hoots and whistles or somebody wanting to make ‘friends’ with you. Mostly, it won’t make a blip on your radar. Occasionally, you’ll be felt up then you are completely pissed off. Mostly I don’t do anything because what’s the point. Once I swore at a guy and got into more trouble than it was worth. So now I just ignore it.”

Gurumurthy is not the only one who prescribes to this line of thought. It’s an idea passed on from one generation to the next. There is, however, a growing crop of women who refuse to ignore it. These are women, every urban, middle class woman, can identify with.

Like Nikita Vishak, a make-up artist says, “I remember, once a friend and I were walking down M G Road. This guy walked up to my friend and felt her up and walked off. When she mentioned it to me, we went running back, found him, chased him down the street and caught him and dragged him to the police station and handed him over to the cops.”

These incidents are not rare occurrences either. Ritika Dhawan, an advertising professional has been at the receiving end of such attention more than once and each time she has thought of innovative methods to deal with such men. Speaking rather factually, she says, “This guy was cycling by and made a sick comment. I kicked his cycle, he lost his balance and fell. When he fell down, I was with friends and we stood there laughing. I told him it served him right and walked off. Another time I was walking home from Forum, and this guy tried to grab my back. I grabbed him by the collar, pushed him around, yelled at him. I had my bottle with me and I just started hitting him with it. The cap came off and the water spilt on him and he had to go away dripping wet.”

If you are wondering, whether this is a universal problem, Christabel Menezes, a globe-trotting NRI who confesses to having suffered a plethora of such assaults, has the answer. She says, “I think it’s Asian men. By Asian, I mean Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi et al. In England, for instance, I’ve lived tease free. Once this guy sang at me and guess where he was from – India.”

As different as their stories maybe, whatever measures they may have taken to fight their assaulters, the one thing that all of them agree on is that women, as a collective group, must stop ignoring the issue and start fighting. Vishak explains, “I’m the sort who’ll beat people up on the street. It’s better than sitting at home and crying about it. I think more women ought to retaliate because if you slap them once, then they’ll think a million times before doing it again. Also public support is always on your side.”

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