Fear filled eyes searching for help……..choked throats trying to cry their hearts out loud….. while shivering hands trying to free themselves…………frozen victims……… panting for breaths………..This may seem like a scene from a horror movie but in reality, the horror and trauma of molestation are so petrifying that most of the victims castigate themselves for not striking off the shadows of those haunting experiences that have been chasing them for a lifetime.
The New Year’s Eve marked one of the darkest chapters in the history of Bengaluru, the IT capital of India when incidents of groping, grabbing and inappropriate touching were reported on Brigade Road. The news flashed everywhere from social media to news channels and newspapers too. If this wasn’t enough, a minister blamed the dressing of youths for attracting such experiences. This made me think, why are people busy blaming clothes and dressing for molestation? Is it so difficult to accept the very fact that it is the mindset of the perpetrator, groper or the attacker who commits such horrendous crimes?
This incident also sheds light on the issues of Groping, Street harassment, Eve-teasing and other sexual crimes. Groping is one such widespread and under-reported issue that has never been talked about much. There have been instances where even men have been groped and it cannot be denied but this article focuses on the experiences of women who have been victims of groping by such predators. The fear of victim blaming and stigmatization prevents the victims from reporting the assaults and crimes they were subjected to. The victim shrinks and prefers to hide.
The crowded, enclosed buses and trains, parties, celebrations have been the breeding grounds for staging such attacks. Do you think groping is much less of a sex crime? The answer is a blatant “No”. Groping is a serious intended attack on the bodily integrity of a person and demands a rightful punishment. The magnitude of groping is often downplayed by the society and media. Insinuating groping to be less grievous than rape often contributes to a widespread impression that is not a heinous crime and the groper is less culpable. Such sentiments and beliefs often contribute to rapes and sexual assaults.
Impact of groping and sexual crimes on the victim:
Most of the victims experience a ‘freeze response’ when assaulted. This response often helps the predators to flee and get away with their assaults. The traces of such experiences often manifest into dreadful nightmares that cause a physical, emotional and psychological harm to the victims. After running through several articles of groping and sexual assaults it saddens me to think that misogyny is so deeply ingrained in the minds of gropers that most of them do not even consider women to be a human being in the first place but merely a piece of meat.
Sexual assaults often stem out from the quest for power, superiority and entitlement. In fact, these cowards often forget that they are asserting domination by forcefully imposing a feeling of worthlessness and humiliation on their victims and gaining shallow self- worth.
A few pointers we ought to remember:
Men can also be the victims of groping. Victim blaming and stigmatizing needs to be stopped. Stop accusing the victim of “overreacting”. Understand that it is not a case of boys being boys and conclusively, it is the mindset of the groper or the perpetrator which is filthy and not the clothes, dressing, drinking that attracts sexual assaults.