From Anubhav in 2007:
When Vaibhav Vats, the President of my college’s ‘Literary Society’ told me that the Society was organising a talk on sexual harassment and concerned issues, I, frankly speaking, did not expect to see or hear anything new or different from all that I already knew about the said subject.
I was wrong.
For not only did that seminar expose me to the hard realities of modern, urban life-realities which until now I, even though aware of them, had not chosen to believe in-but also, by putting these ‘inconvenient truths’ right before my very nose, made me, forced me, to look out of the cocoon of my own happy life into a larger scheme of things. This, I suppose, is the only reason why I’m writing to you even though it’s been almost three and a half months since that seminar.
Like most people, I too had my peculiar set of ideas, ideals and beliefs, all of which are close to me and not just determine my actions, but also shape my outlook. One such peculiar and, in light of this seminar of yours, perhaps outdated belief is in the essential goodness of humanity. While I still refuse to let go of this idea, your seminar did weaken its hold on me in a way that neither newspapers nor statisticians managed, for while the former has a negligible and fickle impact on the conscience, the latter is easy to dismiss if one were to emulate Mark Twain’s notorious example and dump it in the category off the third and, presumably, biggest lie. Hence, inspite of being an avid newspaper reader and inspite of being well aware of the statistician’s alarming conclusion about rapes being perpetrated every twenty-nine minutes in Delhi, I managed to stay blissfully ignorant of the real situation. This is not to say that I am not appalled when I read or get to know about incidents of sexual exploitation- it’s just that I would feel shocked and then move on to the next news item…
Therefore, when Annie Zaidi, Blank Noise started talking about how a huge, humongous majority of Indian women have been sexually harassed at some point or the other in their lives, I was taken aback. But when all the female members of the audience raised their hands in affirmative response to the question whether they had been sexually harassed, I was shocked! I mean, well, OK, I knew these unfortunate things happen, but that they happen in such huge percentages was a revelation that shook me. Agreed that there are no more knights in shining armour, but is this the age of knaves and monsters?...
From your seminar (and not just your but also the great many that followed it) it seems that it is. I cloud not believe my ears when the speaker went on to spell out some of the words from a collection dubiously titled as the ‘Eve-teasing Dictionary’. So great was my amazement and disgust that immediately after the seminar I cornered one of my (male) friends and asked him whether he had ever heard such words, such deeply derogatory and shameful words, being used. I was sure that here atleast I would get a confirmation of my views, my beliefs…
It was the second time in that day that I was proved wrong.
What that fellow told me left me speechless. It seems that seventeen and a half years in this city had not exposed me to one of its most rampant evils…
However, past experiences apart, I must first congratulate you and so, Blank Noise, for its praiseworthy efforts in fighting sexual harassment and then request you to put my e-mail address [firstname.lastname@example.org] on your mailing list (your representative at the seminar told us about this facility).
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