Even girls as young as 11 or 12 routinely experience the horrors of sexual harassment
Bangladesh has never been a socially progressive country. I’ve known that since birth. Still, could there be the possibility of living like a human being, instead of a woman, among a crowd that is tethered to prejudice?
I keep stumbling onto rape stories. Sometimes in fiction, sometimes on the news. Surprisingly, those works of fiction do more justice to the rape victim than the real world would.
Most of the men today (the ones I meet, at least) still strongly believe that rape is a very rare incident, that girls are not teased or harassed as much.
Then why do I still have to keep checking where my fellow male passenger on the bus is keeping his hands? Is it just my paranoia?
I was first harassed when I was 11. In a popular crowded marketplace, I went shopping with my family wearing a grey frock and a ponytail. Before I knew it, some guy passing by us pressed his hand on one of my breasts. I was totally baffled and didn’t know what to do.
I got even more scared when the guy followed me into a shop and then turned around and left for some reason.
Maybe he was expecting to get me alone but realised he won’t have the chance, because I had my family with me.
I was first harassed when I was 11. In a popular crowded marketplace, I went shopping with my family wearing a grey frock and a ponytail. Before I knew it, some guy passing by us pressed his hand on one of my breasts. I was totally baffled and didn’t know what to do
The next time I was 12. A distant uncle came to my grandma’s house, and I was doing something with betel leaves, along with my aunts. He rubbed his fingers against my neck in a very nasty way.
I didn’t even know what sexual harassment was at that time, or why do girls have to cover themselves and not guys. But I felt violated anyway.
I kept thinking about it the whole day, wondering what the hell happened at that moment.
Throughout my teenage years, I met part-time harassers every single day on my way to classes.
These were men of all age groups, passing me by and each making a nasty comment about some particular part of my body. As if I was some kind of delicious dish.
And the more pathetic part is that every time that happened, I came home and wondered what I did wrong.
What I did wrong. Not them.
Last year, I watched the movie Pink and cried for the victims. This year, I’m watching 13 Reasons Why and crying again.
Last year, I cried for Tonu. This year, I’m crying for two new victims and it hasn’t even been half a year.
In 2015, I cried for the multiple rape victims at the TSC Pohela Boishakh incident, instead of grieving over my mother’s death.
Needless to say, none of them got justice, and so I can already say that the ones who are fighting now won’t either.
The men who raped all these women are living their lives just like the rest of us — free and unburdened, not a shred of guilt in any of their cells.
But guess what? In both of the works of fiction I mentioned, the rape victims did get their well-deserved justice.
This is why I always felt, and still feel, the need of a superhero in our country; because we, the ordinary people, have clearly failed our victims.
And no, don’t call us civilised. We are not worth of it, not yet.
Sama Samrin is an aspiring Android developer and a freelance writer.