Interruptions

On Molestation, And What YOU Can Do About It

I write this post, knowing fully well that 95% of actual/potential molesters can’t read this, or can’t be reached with this. We’re in a country where education is scarce, forget internet access and English comprehension. What I do know when I write this, is that I can however reach 95% of actual/potential molestation victims, namely, you, your sisters, your mother, your aunts, your nieces, your girl friends, and through them, their help, their daughters, their neighbors and their acquaintances.

Again, I want to emphasize that what I’m writing is about molestation, not rape. I can’t talk about rapists, not just in India, but anywhere on the planet. Some rapists will rape no matter where you are, who you are, and what you wear because they are psychos with such deep rooted psycho-ness that there is no country without rape. Thankfully, rape as such is a lot rarer than the sexual harassment and assault that we have all been subjected to. 
Molestation on the other hand, in India, is something that our wonderful local men indulge in as some kind of pastime. It happens everywhere – on public transport, in workplaces, hell, even at homes. The average molester is of the opinion that groping or touching a random woman is no big deal. Why?
a. As far as he can see, no one cares, not even the girl, and 
b. He’s not going to be punished. 
Why would he think that? 
Simple.  When an individual touches us, or gropes us in the bus, in the train, in the middle of the crowd, most of us don’t make it a big deal right then, right there. We don’t, we just don’t. We’re shocked, we’re anguished, we’re traumatized, we’re ashamed, but how many of us actually slap him, kick him where it hurts, or make a scene? This is why 90% of molesters even molest. Our silence is incentivising him to continue molesting, and letting him to continue thinking that we don’t care and that he can get free gratification. To the molester, molesting us becomes “no big deal,” like taking a wallet off the road, which might be wrong, but is something you’ll never get punished for. 
So what is the solution? 
Some people think teaching your sons to respect women is the answer, but guess what, most of India’s 60 crore men are not young enough to listen to their mothers and fathers nor learn a brand new set of values overnight. While in the most idealistic case, you can reach 100% of boys still in school, that leaves 20 years before those kids become a majority of our adult population. 

And honestly, I don’t think any of us can take 20 more years of molestation.
As far as I’m concerned, before we teach a mostly illiterate country and its sons about respect and about equality, we need to teach them that molesting a woman, will only bring pain, shame and humiliation to the molester. So tell every female acquaintance you know – sisters, friends, aunts, nieces, your help, their sisters, their friends, their aunts, and every other girl they know, and every other girl you know to not stay silent, to not stay mute when something happens. To react. To make a scene. Right then, right there. To kick the man where it hurts. To not be afraid to carry pepper spray* and to not be afraid to use it. Most importantly, tell them to not be ashamed or guilty when something like this happens, because it was never their fault. 

From personal experience, in Chennai at least, I’ve found that making a scene and calling a molester out, especially in a public space, works, because in this city, if there’s anything men like doing more than groping women, it’s playing hero. So do your best to gather a crowd, bring their attention to what’s happened and ask them if they’d stay silent if the same thing happened to their sisters or daughters or wife. Rest assured, they won’t stay silent. When an individual molester gets jungle justice in a public space, it sends out a very clear message to everyone watching – if you molest, you’re going to get mauled. At this point, women, if you see another woman calling out her molester, go and support her right then, right there instead of hesitating/thinking/coming back home and blogging about it or whatever.  

So before you teach your son to not rape, teach your sisters to fight back. All these years, we’ve been letting molesters violate our space, simply because we didn’t stand up to them. If there must be change, then this is where it starts – stand up for yourself,because you’re not some delicate wilting wallflower, you’re a woman. And just how progressive are you if you still need a man to fight your battles? 

Notes:
2. I understand some women have reservations about creating a scene because of the possible “consequences” it would have. I’d like to point out that this some kind of effect too much Tamil Cinema can have and no, the average molester is not the average thug/goon. In the chance that you do feel unsafe or threatened after, stick to a group while travelling the next couple of days and always, always  remember that what you did was right. 
3. This is a bit of a tangent, but necessary – Teach your 4 and 5 year olds the difference between a good touch and a bad touch and that if anyone has a bad touch, they should tell you, no matter who that person is. If your teenager is taking public transport, warn her of what could happen, and tell her she shouldn’t be afraid to yell for attention and/or help. 
PSThis post is a result of a conversation I had with @subfusced yesterday. Do read his views on this topic. 
Clarification (27.07.2012)

It seems a few people have an issue with a couple of statements in this post. I hope the following clarification will help.

A. “95% of actual/potential molesters can’t read this, or can’t be reached with this.”

I did not claim that 95% of molesters are completely illiterate. I merely claimed that they cannot read and comprehend an argument in English, which this post is. According to the census of India (the latest official stats are 10 years old), only 3.7% of Indians have a college degree, and only 7.7% of Indians have finished 12th standard. (http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/Census_Data_Online/Social_and_cultural/Educational_level_and_Age_groups.aspx) Even assuming very liberally that this number has grown by 50% in the last 10 years, that puts graduates at 5.5% and 12th pass-outs at 10%. While several news articles claim that many of our graduates cannot even comprehend English (http://www.deccanherald.com/content/266674/four-10-indian-engineers-cant.html,http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703515504576142092863219826.html), even assuming liberally that 100% of all people who have a 12th+ education can comprehend English language adequately, that still means 90% of Indians cannot comprehend written English. Assuming molesters are equally likely in every educational segment, then it means 90% of molesters can not read this blog either. Sorry for stating 90% as 95%, but my point is that when you write in English in India, you write for a very small section of society, certainly <10%, unless it is something that an educated person can freely pass on to another less-educated person within the confines of normal social interactions.

B. “Thankfully, rape as such is a lot rarer than the sexual harassment and assault that we have all been subjected to.”

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 24,206 reported cases of rape in India in 2011 (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-03/india/32522876_1_ncrb-report-cases-cognizable-crimes). Against a population of 600 million women, that makes about 0.04 incidents per 1000 women per year. We all know that most rape victims in India are afraid to report cases to the police, and even very liberally assuming that ONLY 1 OUT OF 100 of rape incidents were reported to the police, that caps rape at 2.4 million potential incidents a year. Against a female population of 600 million, that is about 4 incidents per 1000 women per year. Compare this statistic to sexual harassment in the form of groping on a public bus, having lewd comments passed on or being threatened/ stalked by strangers, or even having your trust betrayed by a friend/ relative/ employee who touches you in perverted ways. I do not know even one girl who HAS NOT been harassed in such ways, and I am shocked to know that there are those who believe that this form of sexual harassment (which this blog post is about) is not significantly more numerous than rape. In other words, how can you possibly believe that the number of women sexually harassed per year in India is in the order of 1’s/1000 or 10’s/100 instead of 100’s/1000, when almost every girl and woman you know tells you that they have been sexually harassed at some point in their lives? 

Promises, like pie crusts…

…are made to be broken. Contrary to what most people are thinking, I have not been eaten by a crocodile. I have been eaten, by homework and classes which, as the wise men would tell you, are more evil than all the crocodiles in the world put together. 
The 30 day experiment doesn’t end though – I will update as much as I can. 🙂