Horrors of traveling in a bus


Srimayee Dutta Gupta

I find it difficult to revisit this particular account of my life. I know it’s extremely common among the females of the country to have gone through something similar, but each account is different in its own might. Only the women vary, not the perpetrators. They have the same core. As a 9th Grader, it was a matter of immense joy and pride when my parents allowed me to travel all alone to school using public transport. For the first time was I allowed to step out in the world without holding the hands of my elders. I was explained everything on loop, given sufficient money, made to recite the bus numbers several times. But, what I was not warned about was that I would be touched inappropriately without my consent, frequently.So, after a pretty smooth first week, I felt much more confident and as I entered the second week, something happened that completely changed me.

I boarded a blue line bus numbered 443. Now, blue line buses were known for being notorious. I had my bag on my back and, I struggled my way through the extremely crowded bus to find a spot to stand in.

After around 2 stoppages, I felt a couple of fingers move up my inner thigh. I was too shocked and scared to even move. Plus, there was no space at all. As the fingers went up, they stopped near my panties. My skirt had given him the required access. He pulled aside the cloth covering my vagina. And, before I knew it, his fingers were moving up and down my vagina.

I now know I was being fingered by a random person, but at the time, I had no idea what fingering was. I just felt violated. I couldn’t move, I was fear-stricken. I couldn’t even see his face. I tried moving away from him but it was futile. After around a few minutes, it stopped. I couldn’t feel anything anymore. But, that was not all, pretty soon, a middle-aged male tried to jerk off by rubbing against my hips. I could feel his boner against myself.

 

2015: Average of 6 rapes, 15 molestation incidents each day

However, this time I mustered up all the courage I had and moved away from him. At that point, even moving away required courage and as I tried doing it, he shamelessly asked me to wait a little (Probably because he had not climaxed by then.) But, I moved away.

As I walked back home, I couldn’t understand whose fault it was. Was it my fault that I was travelling by myself, wearing a skirt, or the other party’s fault who felt they owned me? I couldn’t decide then. Perhaps, it’s because of the way we are conditioned. We always say, “Do haath se hi taali bajti hai”, which places the victim and the culprit on the same pedestal.

I realized that whatever happened was wrong. And, that I would never allow anyone ever to touch me without my consent. The incident was of course the fault of those men, but it was an eye-opener for me.

And, I have been rude, abusive and rough while travelling by bus, ever since.

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