Public transports serve as a menace for most women and especially if there are no special provisions available that segregate women from the rest either in a crowded bus or in a filled bogie of a train. Rogue elements often use such an opportunity to put their unscrupulous and objectionable designs into action and women often keep silent in order to avert an unpleasant public situation. The question though is whether it is right to think primarily about a nasty public spat or whether ones’ own dignity should be protected in such a situation? The fact that keeping mum ends up emboldening such miscreants and their notorious and denigrating intentions should be taken into account. Harping on this point, I would like to elucidate upon a real life experience that I have faced myself. Although there are way too many experiences to recount and I am sure almost every girl has had faced such situations, this particular incident has stirred me into thinking what really goes in the minds of people like those whom I am about to mention.
Recently I happened to ply a bus from a location near my house to a movie hall, which took around forty minutes to reach from my area. There were a group of ladies who were crowding the rear end of the bus and most of them looked like college students. As the bus was overcrowded, there was not even a tiny bit of space to even move our hands and legs and feel comfortable. Just then I heard a commotion from that end of the bus and I turned around to look what was happening. An altercation broke out and there were two groups of people accusing each other. Such a scene is quite a common one for all those who commute public transport in the wee hours of morning and evening. Apparently a young man had made unflattering gestures at those college students and even after repeated warnings, he refused to budge down and continued with his antics. Just when all this was happening, a lady next to me expressed her displeasure at the turn of events. Dissatisfaction on her countenance was visible as she questioned the necessity of such an uproar. Her point of view was that such things happen on a regular basis almost everywhere and hence, it is better to ignore such people than create an issue about it. She ended her statement by saying that creating a scene does nothing to resolve the problem but it will only aggravate the matter by seeking attention to it. Many of us were appalled to hear such an explanation. A certain section of the passengers disapproved and there was a clash of ideas. After a while, the roguish youth was driven out of the bus and a while later, things cooled down. When the bus reached the desired destination and the conductor of the bus asked me about my opinion about what happened while he was asking the same to a few others, I failed to come up with a proper reply.
I got down from the bus but the thing that kept bugging me for long was whether I could have done more than being a mute spectator to the incident. The fact that I was not a witness to whatever happened and was only one to its apparent consequences, perhaps I could not have taken sides with a clean conscience and with conviction. In a crowded public place, people may often come in close contact with each other, which can be misinterpreted by either parties. At other instances, there are roguish elements who take advantage of such a situation and indulge in inappropriate activities against women. Hence, having a clear cut idea is often marred by a gray-shaded zone. Despite such an ambiguous nature of such instances, it is true that miscreants often try to get too close for comfort under certain circumstances. In such a situation, the woman needs to speak out irrespective of how judgemental other people prove to be. In many cases it is seen that ignoring such matters as petty or insignificant cases helps to provide the tormentor with more grit and mettle, leading to heinous crimes like sexual assaults and rapes.
Ignorance and a tendency to deal with these matters lightly are often adopted by many women but it is definitely not the right way out. If you feel that a certain person is making you uncomfortable, express your displeasure directly to the concerned person and make it clear that you are going to resist such activities and not take it lying down. Even if after repeated warnings, the person does not pay heed to it, just go and complain about it to the nearest person in charge of the mode of transport ,i.e, a conductor, a station master or an RPF personnel on duty. Do not think about what you are going to be judged as but before you take such a step make sure to find out if the person was deliberately indulging in such antics or whether it was misunderstood and was not being done with any wrong intention. Resistance and a determination to speak out will ensure that you are not seen as somebody who can be cowed down by adversaries but take every challenge as an opportunity to protect your self-esteem and dignity.