When we conduct awareness workshops in schools, colleges and communities, many share their stories with us. For some, it is the first time they are breaking their silence about the harassment they have experienced. While maintaining the confidentiality and their privacy, we want to share their stories with you. The characters are fictitious but their experiences aren’t.
Dodging nudges and touches in Public Transport
“It was around 8 am, and I was quickly finishing up some kitchen work before I left for work. I am a teacher at a government school, and I truly love my job. It brings me immense joy to teach little ones who deserve the best education, no matter their background. But though I love my job, leaving to go to school everyday fills me with unimaginable dread. I take an autorickshaw to school, and I have to share it with other passengers. The others are usually men, since women don’t work outside the home often where I live. I end up sharing the rickshaw with three other men most days, and it is horribly uncomfortable. The men elbow me, make indecent comments, even touch me inappropriately at times. I silently bore this daily, until one day a man tried to put his hand around my waist. I confronted him, to which he replied, “It’s an auto, no one has space. If you have such a problem, use your own vehicle.”
But I can’t afford my own vehicle. I can’t even afford not to share an auto with strangers. I barely earn enough to provide for my family. All I am trying to do is earn a decent living, and make the lives of some children better, do I not deserve a dignified auto ride at the very least? Is dignity only reserved for the women who can afford private vehicles? For the longest time, I felt that I could not share this with anyone. Not even my own family, for they say the same things that the men in the auto do – ‘It is how it is. You are a woman. You have to learn to deal with these things.’
Now I can finally talk about this to someone, and it relieves me to know that I’m not alone – many women share in my struggle.”
Written by Dhwani Nanavati–
Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Economics, Dhwani Nanavati volunteers in the communications department at Safecity. She believes that the best way to advance women’s rights is by raising awareness, and Safecity is the perfect platform for the same. Apart from academics, she enjoys reading, writing, dancing and debating.