Sexual harassment is a raging issue not only in Sri Lanka, but also in many 1st world countries such as the USA. The root cause of growing sexual harassment is the lack of reaction.
Here’s hoping that with years to come, Sri Lanka and the rest of the world would have more respectful men.
And about the disrespectful men, I suggest castrating them. Haha.
And just so you, beautiful/handsome reader, know, I have been flashed at thrice. And all the three times I was too scared. Mainly because on the first two occasions I wasn’t even TEN! But I have decided the next time I’m harassed on the streets, I shall make sure to take one of his bones home. Haha.
It was her first day at work. Clad in a pair of loose fitting pants and a blouse, she headed out. She would have chosen a pair of shorts teamed with a skinny to wear to office on a hot day, with the weather being a blazing 34 degrees, if not for the very “cultured and decency oriented” system in her country. It was 6.30 in the morning. The road leading to the station was isolated. As she walked down, she noticed a man leaning against a lamp post. He dug around in his pocket for half a minute before taking out a fag and a lighter. He spotted her drawing nearer to him. He raised a brow, lighted his cigarette and took a long drag. He blew the cloud of smoke as she walked past him. He whistled. She ignored. That was what she had been taught to do. She remembered her mom saying, “Rita, you’re a young woman. If a man does anything disrespectful, just ignore him.”
She hurried her steps. She could hear footsteps of a follower. She knew it was him. She walked as fast as her legs possibly could. She was almost at the end of the road. She heard him whistling once again. She didn’t turn around. She finally reached the station. She turned around. He wasn’t in sight. She heaved a sigh of relief and wiped off the sweat beads that had formed on her forehead. She approached the ticket counter. “One ticket to Colombo 4, please,” she said. The man at the cashier was a fat, dark man with beetle stained teeth and disheveled hair. “That’ll be forty rupees,” he said. Rita handed him a fifty rupee note. He grabbed it and took out a ten rupee note out of the cash box. As he handed her the balance, he held her hand. He smirked. Rita’s eyes met his and he grasped her hand even tighter. She could feel his sweat against her palm. Rita pulled away with a look of disgust on her face while the fat, dark man smiled, self-approvingly. She ignored. She walked away. She saw an empty seat at the not-so-well-kept waiting area.
She rubbed her hands together as she took her seat. She looked around impatiently for the train to arrive. Five minutes later, a man in his late twenties took the seat next to her. He was well dressed. He wore a pair of black trousers, teamed with a blue shirt and black shoes. He was carrying what looked like a laptop bag. He tapped her and asked, “May I know the time, please?” “It’s fifteen minutes past seven,” she replied. He thanked her and took out his phone. It was a Nokia camera phone. Not two minutes passed by when Rita heard a click. Rita realized the man had taken a picture of her on his phone, but had forgotten to switch his phone to Silent Mode. She ignored. She got up from her seat to board the train.
There was a lot of pushing to get into the train. Mothers with school kids, and men and women, like herself, who had to be in their offices by eight, were in a battle to get in. Rita suddenly felt a hand going up her blouse. Her heart raced. She couldn’t turn around to see who it was. The hand landed on her right breast. She was being groped. She wanted to scream for help, but her throat was dry. She was being pushed from all sides. The tight clench finally loosened, as she stepped in to the packed compartment. Rita was in tears. She couldn’t get over the shock, but being the strong hearted girl she was, she managed to maintain her calm.
Rita was lucky to find a seat in the crowded train. She drew a long breath and brushed her fingers through her long, black hair. The morning’s events had been too much to digest. She took a sip of water. She saw a tiny, old man standing. She felt sorry for him. She smiled at him, but was too strained to offer him the seat like she would have on a normal day. He smiled back. A minute later, he unzipped and flashed at her. Rita was lost for emotions. No, this time, I shan’t ignore, she thought. She stood up and stood face to face with the man. “Have you got no shame?!” she asked with raging anger in her eyes. He looked at her, smugly, but didn’t reply. She couldn’t control it anymore. SMACK! Her right palm had landed on his left cheek. The passengers turned around, too stunned to react. Rita saw the look of disgust and disapproval for her on the face of a woman who was with her daughter. “So disrespectful. I don’t know what is wrong with girls these days,” she heard one say. “Don’t you dare show me your filthy face again!” she screamed at the man. They had reached her stop. Rita got off and hurried to her workplace. A tear trickled down her cheek. The past 2 hours had been too stressful, but then again, she knew this was going to be her routine. She was going to be harassed every day. If she chose to ignore, she’d continue to suffer, but if she chose to react, people of her “cultured and decency oriented” society would try to blame it on her.
Sexual harassment is openly permitted. Sadly.
And what’s sadder is that those who try to bring about change are often mocked at.
The more we allow men to harass women, the more they will.
Think before you choose to ignore.