If you are a girl living in India….stop, strike that.
If you are a girl, you have been there.
Been there, done that.
If you are a girl, I can write it in my blood and stamp it with the seal of my heart that you have been subjected to leching, leering and lusting as if you were an object at some point in life.
And if you are a girl living in India, you have made peace with it and “adjusted” to this uniquely practiced phenomena.
We all know about the state of rapes in our country and elsewhere in the world, and rape is criminal.
However, a lot of men, have understood that. Yes, rape is criminal but, lechering?
Lechering is fun.
Lechering is done in jest. Lusting after some by-stander on the road is just entertaining. It is harmless, right?
Except, that it is not fun for the girl in question. Except that it is not a jest for the girl, when she is standing in a crowd and is lechered in front of everyone. Except, that it is not harmless to the victim.
Victim, huh, some people would ask me.
Victim is a pretty strong word, and to use this for someone who is being eve-teased, no rape, just eve-teased, is a little too harsh, no?
Lechering is not fun. It is harassment. And if girls knew better, they could complain against it.
Let me tell you a short story from my early days in Mumbai.
I used to be a really delicate dolly, and when I heard that I would have to start commuting by trains and buses, I fainted a little. This was when I was in my eleventh grade, also known as, the junior college, also known as, the glorious year of your adulthood. Nevertheless, we started travelling in packs, with friends together. We had a particular bus route and sometimes we used to take the train to college as well.
I faced lechering and eve-teasing almost every day. Men would stare at us, look closely into our eyes unabashed and have the audacity to not look away. They would watch us move, stare at our curves and smile lustfully. Eve-teasing would be one step further, when these idiots would sing some cheesy B-grade song to woo the girls or worse follow the girls around. Thankfully, never molested, but all the girls in our gang were pretty peeved with this.
So, what did we do?
I am sorry to burst your bubble and shatter all you readers’ expectations – Given my reputation with you all, I am pretty sure you must be thinking that we heroically thrashed the goons and complained to the cops and stopped this social nuisance.
Unfortunately, we did nothing of that sort.
Like cowards, we stopped going by trains and buses altogether for the next year of college!
We started using, let’s say, a more private means of transportation to block out any interaction with these goons.
And we thought that would stop the problem, given that we were at an extremely impressionable age.
But, no, one of the guys, started following us around. He had a bike and I would always find him stationed near to my pick-up and drop points. He wouldn’t do much, but just ride around wherever we went.
This time, I decided to tackle this head-front.
As we walked down our community street leading up to the auto-rickshaw stand one day, we found him again, this time convoyed by a couple of his good-for-nothing friends.
He didn’t say much, but his eyes looked so leering that it seemed to strip the hell out of me.
As soon as we approached them, they started to whistle and sing.
And the song they picked was cringe-worthy – They started singing – “O Laal Dupatte Wali Tera Naam To Bata…”
What I did next, was pretty shocking to me in hindsight, and might be hilarious to you now.
As I tiptoed ahead with my friend towards them, they expected me to get angry or shout at them.
But what we did was downright unexpected.
We sang along, and completed the next line of the song – “O Kaale Kurte Wale Tera Naam To Bata…”
The boys were stumped and shell-shocked that perhaps this was the first time in the history of their eve-teasing career that they had received such a reaction.
And then, I stared back. I kept staring at him until he looked away. And I stared at him until he left and never came back.
I didn’t do anything heroic. I just did exactly what he was doing to me.
Leering with disgust.
Leching with repulsion.
I am not saying that this is the right way to deal with harassment – My word to girls all over facing such atrocities would be simple – Be brave, speak up and grab the situation head on. Do not listen to society who are always trying to tell you to dress up in a “safe” way, travel lesser, stop visiting places and stop living your life. Instead, know in your heart that you can fight this, because the brute force of man isn’t greater than your strength of character.
My word to men – Stop looking at women as if they are your property.
Stop staring at them, making them feel uncomfortable, sexually harassing them. You can win over no girl with intimidation.
Stop objectifying women.
Stop treating women as a fodder for your harmless fun.
Stop leching, stop licking.