Scary memories still lurk beneath the surface

‘A man caught me by the waist and then held my hand tightly. I hit him with my bag’

Women don’t feel safe in Delhi.

Anita, 27, says she does not feel safe with men stalking her and passing lewd comments when she travels from her home in Khadar, east Delhi, to her office in Connaught Place.

“No woman will feel safe after she has been molested on Delhi streets. This is not uncommon as several girls living in Delhi have been victims of eve-teasing, molestation and even rape,” Anita said.

She was molested by a stranger on March 7, 2010 while returning from work along with a female colleague. After getting off the bus, she was walking towards her home at 7:30 pm.

“The man caught me by the waist and then held my hand tightly. I got furious and hit him with my bag. I held him by his collar and asked my colleague to call the police on 100,” she said. There was a police beat van nearby which hurried towards Anita after hearing a loud scream. “I narrated the incident to the beat police and asked them to take the man to Khadar police station,” she added.

Once they reached the police station, the man denied that he molested Anita. He started making up stories about how another man in the same lane had molested her.

“I did not budge from the station till they filed an FIR because the police also started believing that he was not the one who molested me. It took me two hours to convince them that they should file an FIR as it was my right to report any abuse. I left the station at 10:30 pm,” she said.

When asked if she could tackle a similar situation in the future, she said “I am confident but the fear still remains. On any given day I do not reach home before 8:30 pm as I travel by bus which does not drop me at the doorstep. I need to walk at least one kilometre to reach my house. Do I feel safe walking on that stretch after the incident which took place one-and-a-half year ago? No. I fear that I might become a victim of something bigger.”

She is sympathetic towards women who are not aware of the helplines and do not go to the police as they are ashamed of being abused.

“We have to fight our own battle. Nobody will help us till we do not help ourselves,” she said. Anita adds that this is not the first time that she has been molested. There have been several instances where men riding in Delhi Transport Corporation buses have tried to touch her indecently.

“I know how to stand and protect myself but mostly buses are filled with men who try to come close. I am married but that does not make a difference to these men. What should I do? Lock myself in the house?” she said angrily.

(The name of the victim has been changed)

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