We hear about people getting harassed and abused every day. These short horror incidents about harassment might shake you to the core:
Out On The Streets
Aroma is a perky Lahore-based journalist, who narrated an incident she had forgotten about until I brought the issue of harassment up with her, “It was in Karachi, I think I was three years old maybe,” she claims, “We lived in Nazimabad, it used to be a friendly neighbourhood. My younger sister and I were playing outside with our cousins, in the afternoon.”
It is a norm for kids to play in the streets near their houses in the afternoon or evening, as the streets were deserted, people are either taking their afternoon nap or in their offices, “I was running and left my cousins behind in a race. A young boy, probably 16 or 17 years old was standing at the end of the street. He picked me up and kissed me on the mouth. I started screaming and resisting until he dropped. I was so scared because I couldn’t understand what just happened. I came back home, wanted to cry but I just didn’t know how to explain the whole thing to my mum because I was what THREE YEARS OLD?”
Inside The House
I got this through a mail by an anonymous Female, from Canada who is a mother of three in her late 40s.
Talking about harassment within her house she told me about her molvi who used to teach her the Qaida when she was about 10 years old, “One-day Molvi sahib started rubbing his hand on my lap. I was young but I felt it wasn’t right, I got up and excused myself for some water. I went to Amma and said I don’t want to read the Quran by the Molvi, she got angry but I maintained my stand.”
Sometimes a moment of courage can change your entire life.
“After he left, I told her what he did, and Amma told him not to come anymore. I think because of the incident I wasn’t ever able to read the Quran again. I finished it after my marriage and was taught by my mother in law.”
In Public Spaces
On April 10, a high school bubbly girl went out on a late night movie with her family, in DHA cinema Lahore.
She says she always likes sitting in the middle row, middle seat to get a better view of the screen. “I sat right in the middle on my left was my Khala and on my right side were three young boys. Half the movie went by, nothing happened. This old man was sitting in the row right in front of us, I saw him leave during the interval and somehow when he got back he came and sat next to me”.
She waited for the original seat owners to come and ask for their seat back but they didn’t, “Some 5 minutes later I kind of felt his hand touching a bit of my leg. I have no clue, what he was trying to do; I got up and changed seats with my Khala.”
She told her about the incident in anger and was told to shut up and not create a scene. I wanted to confront him but he left before the movie ended, “Since that day there is this fire inside me. I can recognise his face even when there are 1000 people around. I have lost confidence in speaking up for my rights.”
Her perspective changed for good she thinks, “I know people can be wrong but I thought that applies to only uneducated men, never thought an old man the age of my father would ever try doing such a thing. I don’t feel safe any place is safe anymore, I wanted to take action but as our society always blames the victim, we can’t do much! God forbid if a girl gets raped people start talking shit about the girl whereas that poor soul had nothing to do with it.”
Within The Family
This girl in her late twenties, who is an aspiring interior decorator in the UAE, told me her story, about how shocked she was that blood relatives can deceive you.
“Four years ago was the last time I visited Pakistan, this happened within my paternal house, in Lahore. I haven’t gone back since” she confides in me.
“I was sitting in my room during the day; it was load-shedding time again, my youngest uncle (Chachu), unmarried, came in and sat with me. I suddenly felt very uncomfortable and got up to leave the room. My dad was not in the country and people usually back a bit about foreign girls. As I walked my uncle jumped in front of me and locked the door,” she gasps.
Asking him to move away, what he was doing, she started screaming, “He suppressed my scream by covering my mouth with his filthy hands, and I literally kicked him and opened the window which opened in our hallway, where everyone was sitting,”
Screaming on top of her lungs she told everyone that her uncle was misbehaving and has locked the room, “My mum & aunties came running and saved me. When my mum told the entire story to my dad all he said was it must be a joke,” she laughs.
“My dad thought I couldn’t take a desi joke, I lived with my Khala for the rest of the vacations and never went back to Pakistan,” she claims.
She says she has lost trust in the relations of blood too, “I literally hate Pakistan and the joint family system, if something happens in one corner of the house the another corner is oblivious to it. Especially when your dad refuses to support you, it is worst than death,” she expertly puts.
Why Am I So Vocal About Harassment?
This incident happened with me, my first every brush off harassment in any form and the reason why I am so vocal about it.
“I was walking to my university; the path goes through trees and is a beautiful walk which is usually busy. I was busy with my smartphone. I saw three men walking towards me. One of the men was on his cycle, the other two in office attire. I have no idea when, but the guy on the cycle and gotten down and grope me. This happened so fast, I could only scream, dropped my phone and turned to see his face.”
“I will never forget that face, he was old and wrinkly, worn out and used to hard labour. His face was stern and emotionless. He smiled at me, proud of his act and happy of what he achieved today.”
“I screamed and ran after him, the other two just looked at me. ‘A mad girl’ I seemed to them. He never looked back, just rode off.”
“I haven’t ever cried in public, like that ever. Everyone on their way to and from the university consoled me asked me what happened, I had no words. My friends asked me and I was ashamed. Later I confided it to my friend, who was furious and told me to hit them the next time someone does it. I told my mum, who cried at first and told me to protect myself with pepper spray next time. I have been lucky to be surrounded by people who tell me to strike back, but this wasn’t my last time and I do not think will be ever but I will keep fighting and will keep asking others to do so too.”
Not every girl has the guts to scream and make her stand, not every girl knows what has been done to her, we do not know of the devils that dwell amongst us, but we can at the least try and support the victims and survivors. It gets worse when the family asks survivors to stay quite; instead of teaching the culprit a lesson.