India is a patriarchal society and women have always been treated like they were less than men, as if we were made for their whims and fancies. In such a world, growing up as a girl can be difficult or in some major cases, even scarring.
What has become a common topic of discussion and a common ground for attachment, are the various instances of sexual assault we have experienced as we grew up.
When I was just a kid, I must have been in 2nd class, I went to a supermarket with my family in Agra. I remember it was extremely crowded on that specific day, the reason though I seem to have forgotten. The crowd was how you would expect a crowd to be in UP, but it didn’t seem unsafe, at least to me or my parents. Plus I had been to this supermarket a billion times, and thus I didn’t have the fear of getting lost.
I couldn’t control my excitement; I remember rushing to where all the barbies were kept almost as soon as we entered but the row with all the toys was extremely crowded and there was a flow of humans coming every second. I had no patience and started going against the crowd, that’s when it happened. I remember trying to push my way when a guy groped my breast. I still remember the faces of all the people crossing me, and that uncomfortable feeling that came after I was groped. I shrugged it off as nothing and continued on my journey to where they kept the barbies.
But something about the incident seemed weird. As a kid, I didn’t understand why he had done that and I kept telling myself that it was nothing more than a mistake on his part , even then the seed of a doubt remained as to how could that person could grope my breast by mistake? I felt something was wrong, even though “grope” was a word that didn’t yet exist in my dictionary.
It was years later that I realised what had happen, that I was assaulted in the public but being a kid and therefore unaware, I made no move. Maybe this is why these predators target kids, they take advantage of their innocent minds.
Girls all over India have been through incidents like mine, and have had fear instilled in their minds. The worst part about this is the fact that at that time you tell yourself that it was nothing, but years later when the epiphany hits you, your knees shake and you feel violated to say the least.
Every time I cross a crowded place now, I make sure that my hands cover my chest and even though I have overcome the horror and trauma from this, a lot of girls don’t. They live in fear, experiencing flashbacks throughout their lives. So let’s work to change our society, to make it safe for all the young girls out there who do not have to grow up with scars around their hearts which only let out fear.