Let's Learn from Giraffes

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Story of Anisha Das

Exactly what counts as sexual harassment? This question continues to bug me every day of my life. 22 years on earth and I already walk on streets stark afraid, looking back every 5 minutes, startling at every rustle of shoes. 1. It all goes back to when I was 14. My father was fighting a long battle with cancer and naturally, maa had to run to hospitals a lot. With the elder sibling studying out of town, I was left alone at home most of the time.

There was a neighbor upstairs, also a family friend who was asked to keep an eye on me should I be feeling alone or facing problems. Little did anyone know he'd be the biggest nightmare of all. Initially, he used to come and make me sit on his lap, touching me. No, I didn't feel strange then since I had known him since childhood and took it as his way to express love. Things went downhill as one day he forced me to kiss him on lips, grabbed and squeezed my breasts, and made me touch his penis. I was so scared of him thereafter, eventually, I used to lock doors and never open whenever he knocked.

I didn't open up to my parents, apprehensive that they would have to deal with my problems at the same time when we were going through a crisis. This incident was a terrible blow to my confidence. To date, I shudder at any sudden touch. Afterward, I've seen my neighbor being indulgent and friendly to daughters of other neighbors; I wonder if they went through the same.

The mother giraffe repeatedly kicks her kid until it learns to stand up. Repeated red flags of harassment finally made me realize my mistake. One day I was returning home by auto. My co-passengers were a middle-aged man and an old lady. A few minutes into the journey, that man started trying to sit very close to me, even nudging me once or twice with his elbow. I raised my voice against him, loud and clear, and told him to sit apart. To my surprise, the lady also supported me. My suggestion to all other girls like me is to speak up. That's the first step we can take towards our own safety.

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