Naimah Tanzim (Translated by Sadia Rahman):
I don’t remember how it started but it is not something new to harass women taking advantage of the crowd.
Do we remember Badhon? It was 1999, on 31st December. Everyone was busy celebrating New Year’s Eve. Badhon was molested publicly in the Dhaka University area.
Bangladesh was the venue of 2011 world cup. It was a pride for everyone to be the welcoming country though it was a terror to the women inhabitants of Mirpur. Especially when Bangladesh is on the field. Roads used to be blocked from Rokeya Avenue. It was a bonus to get teased while walking on the roads! Cricket lover boys would push girls to express joy, to celebrate the win of Bangladesh. It was the same year when a girl in Agargaon got harassed. She was found guilty to be outside with friends to enjoy the celebration of Bangladesh’s win over Ireland. Since then I avoid being outside when there is a game on. Still, I was followed from Sony hall to Stadium when 2016 Asia cup was on. I lose them taking shelter in a shop.
This is needless to mention those perverts who grope while shopping for ‘Eid. I will never know if they have been fasting at that time or not. To get mixed in the crowd is another way to achieve their goal. I have not been in ‘Eid shopping after 2014. These days’ online shopping helps a lot or I go to the market after ‘Eid. I don’t need an ‘Eid dress anyway cause I don’t have the liberty to go out on this day. Molesters usually are on their peak on this sacred day.
Another day I used to enjoy. It was Pahela Baishakh. After 2015 that day is dead too. For your information, it was the day when a group of molesters snatched away the Shari out of a woman’s body. No one was spared starting from 12 years old to the woman who was accompanied by her husband and kids. After that Bangla year celebration is also dead along with the English New Year celebration.
Recently, it was no holiday. School, college, University, offices were on a regular day schedule. So it was not possible to stay cornered in the home. Women of Dhaka city by their own faults came out of houses to perform regular activities. Some went for offices, some went to see doctor others were just students with uniforms.
These days, this is a crime too- to step out! Some were teased, some were molested and tortured. These girls, all of them, they do not have Facebook accounts. Not all of them wrote about their experiences on Facebook. Those who did were forced to take those off online. They were asked why they were outside on this day and some were accused of telling lie to become famous within a night.
I faced an experience a few days back like this when I was going for tuition a guy groped me. I chased him back in spite of silently taking off. I sprayed pepper spray on him. Then some people around him molested me for doing that. The police came and locked me up. They informed my family. It was 2 am I returned home with my mother being totally traumatized. I shared my experience on Facebook that was the second time when I got molested virtually. Even after watching video footage people tagged me as an attention seeker. I didn’t get what I was supposed to do with these brainless people’s attention. Even after six months of that incident, I am unable to move on though everyone else advised doing so.
My question is why should I move on? For how long we have to leave these? We sacrificed 31st, Bangla New Year, love for cricket even ‘Eid. Now it feels like we’ll have to sacrifice School College, studies everything. We cannot share experiences on Facebook. Next is what? Will we have to sacrifice breathing?
It is high time you should stop being a fraud. If you do not like my post then go and live in Switzerland with your modest eyes. Enjoy Meghnadhbodh with snowfall. If you find our experiences something false then watch Conjuring. That is more believable in your eyes. When a girl is being harassed in front of you and you are coward to help her then at least don’t advise her to “leave these”. Use your gigantic nose in somewhere else. In the end, it’s our fight and we’ll have to make our way on our own.
This is Women’s day. We will hear sweetest words in this day as usual. Though reality will be as it always has been. Men will be seen occupying women seat in a bus like always, Rickshaw puller to Boss everyone will keep staring at our breasts as always. Spam messages will exist as always.
Like the other days if I get harassed in crowd hundreds of faces will come to tear me up into pieces. But I won’t be defeated. No matter how you try, no matter what you do, till my last breath, I’ll keep raising my voice. I will not be defeated at any cost.
The original article in Bengali was published in Women Chapter on 9th March 2018.
Naimah Tanzim is a social enthusiast. She lives in Dhaka and likes to highlight the daily misery of a messy, busy urban life through her writing. She loves reading and spending time with children. She is involved with several social programs, such as teaching underprivileged children, donating blood and contributing to environmental issues.