This decision of DMRC to designate ladies only coach sounded a bad idea to me as after commuting in DTC buses, I hell knew women get to sit only on those three seats, rest of them remained men’s fiefdom! This turned out to be true as in a metro of five coaches or even six; women are relegated to just one coach while men rule rest of the coaches! If government has such love for ladies, why not give three to them and three to men! So this blog post by ‘nm’ a blogger, about her friend who was ‘mentally harassed’ by people in a General coach of Delhi Metro finally made me write this piece, reading which you would know why is it a bad idea.
Now this girl had a horrible experience and we know about it now as blogging helped her narrate her experience however through a friend but most of us would agree that this is not a once in a while incident and this is not something which does not happen everyday whenever ‘women’ go ‘out there’ to interact with the real world. All points of intersection in life outside home, including that call to the rickshaw wala to that seat in the ladies coach where general coach is the adjacent coach, involve harassment. By the time you get a rickshaw in the scorching heat, you are done with your share of being ‘checked out’ and as of the ladies coach, which you thought is safe, also think about those horny men who occupy the partition between the two coaches and stand with their eyes in the direction of ladies coach. I overheard one of them saying to another, “Yaar mein toh yehi khada hota hoon, saari ek hi jagah mil jati hain”.
So with this as the vantage point, I will first narrate my own experience- every girl can tell you atleast one experience where she was at the receiving end of a lot of humiliation, only because she was a girl.
It so happened that to reach my college for the first class at nine, I could not afford to miss this 8:13 Metro which was about to leave at any moment. I was still at the last step of the escalator and ladies coach was pretty far from where I was. Generally I travel in ladies coach- here generally means 90% of the total times that I use metro. It is not about my safety as I am confident enough to slap back any stranger who tries to be touchy-feely but what do I do with preying eyes, which check out every female anatomy as if they are lying in their bedrooms watching porn! Every woman out on street looks like ‘on sale’ to such people who lack character. To fix them with my staunch look or murmuring of abuses (at times murmuring abuses- chaste Hindi ones help as these scumbags get the message that they are not being welcomed with warmth!) is not what I would want to do first thing in the morning. So I finally settled for a seat in the general coach. Now it sure is a general coach as besides ladies coach, all the coaches are for people of all the sexes. Still men take general coach to be ‘men’s coach’. Maybe after all the female feticides and lack of opportunities for education and employment, males actually outnumber women on streets (and metro coaches). Thus seeing that their ‘tribe’ has more members, men get under false impression that a non-ladies coach is a coach for men by default!
The seat that I had occupied in the general coach was the one, which has space for seven people, and I was the only girl sitting there (for reasons explained above). To begin with, all the people (read men) who boarded the crowded metro (morning rush), stood with their faces towards me and I so know the feeling the girl in this blog post must have had, as literally you feel surrounded by men, toppling over each other to fall over you. I could not have helped my situation practically as I could not afford miss the metro and neither could I reach the ladies coach with the entire crowd pouring from nowhere. Also, convincing all these guys to stand straight and excuse themselves from leaning towards me was impossible. The kind of look they give you when you say something never heard before!
The only option I was left with was to read the newspaper I had in my bag. It was an Economic Times, which I guess must have hurt the male chauvinist in the coach as women according to them, don’t talk business! I was just about to successfully take my mind away from this when a man, around 55 in age, came to seat himself on the vacant space besides me. Now do you know that angle at which someone is sitting such that his body can push yours anytime if you are not careful? Well this ‘old man’ was sitting in such fashion and was trying to keep his stuff below the seat. I immediately folded the newspaper back and waited for him to mind his posture and his ways! After getting such reaction from an ‘alert’ me, this person asked me in a sarcastic tone, “Mam you have a problem?” to which I replied firmly, “yes indeed, can you please bring yourself to settle in the seat a little more sooner because you may push me and this is making me uncomfortable!”. And now happened what always does, suddenly it was Men United! This guy addressed them all, looking for acceptance, “dekhiye in mohtarma ko lagta hai mein inhe touch karne aaya hoon!” (See this lady thinks I am here to touch her) sensing his ulterior motives to insult me, I snapped back at him, “It is between us, settle it with me or if I will involve my side of support, you would end up in a miserable position!” Such a warning was enough for him to lose his mind as maybe no girl/woman till date had given him the dose I gave and he so invited! He started murmuring and the entire coach tried to offer me a good 10 minutes of humiliation as my station was still away. To fight back the questioning eyes, I shouted at them for being such losers who think general coach is not for ‘ladies’ and thus aim to make us feel so bad that we remain in the corner, which is now officially designated for us! Somewhere in my mind, I was resolute to not escape the truth that men think the world is only for them and but they hell have to wake to a new truth now-The world is as much mine as theirs!