BENGALURU: With several prominent personalities being called out openly and accused of sexual predatory behaviour, CE spoke to some college-going students on their personal instances of abuse or harassment. They tell us that they face eve-teasing and harassment regularly in public places - while boarding buses, walking, shopping or travelling. These incidents are so common that they are now ‘used to it’, and are tired of even reacting, they say.
Swathi Iyer, 21, a final year BCom student at Mount Carmel College, is still disturbed by an incident from when she was in Class 8. This happened while walking towards a bus stand with a friend. “A stranger on a bike came and said, ‘excuse me’. When I turned to him thinking he needed some help with directions, he pointed to his private parts and said, ‘touch me’.
He then removed his pants and started touching himself. We were young and didn’t know how to react as we were scared. We came back home without nowing what to do or whom to talk to. I am still disgusted and disturbed by it,” she says.
Another student shares her ordeal. The 21-year-old BCom student recalls an incident that took place when she was in Class 5. “While I was waiting for my aunt at a bus stand after school, a man on a bicycle stopped by. He started rubbing his privates against the bicycle seat.
I was so traumatised that I couldn’t sleep for days,” she says. Deepthi Naik, a 21-year-old final year BA student at Mount Carmel College, was harassed by an auto driver. “On my way back home, an auto driver who saw me holding an umbrella, unzipped his pants and said, ‘look, even I have an umbrella’. It disturbs me to date,” she says.
There have been cases of harassment in colleges too, which have, students say, included incidents of mental abuse and slut-shaming. According to Sonia (name changed), a PU student, her Sanskrit teacher made it a habit to shame his students. “I once went to the washroom without my dupatta and returned when he had already entered class. He recited a Sanskrit shloka and then causally proceeded to call me a prostitute,” she says.
Gauri’s (name changed) dream turned to a nightmare when she joined one of the city’s most popular colleges. “I was a mass communication student and we had this favourite young teacher who would tag along with us sometimes when we would hang out. One of my friends started avoiding outings where he would accompany us. I didn’t get the hint until he started commenting on my looks and praising me in front of the entire group. It got very unpleasant, he would comment about my body. I asked him to stop, but he wouldn’t,” she recalls.
The #metoo movement is encouraging many to voice out their experiences. Smriti Rai (name changed), a Class 10 student, says the movement made her more aware of the issue. “The girls in our class talk about how our physics professor stares at our breasts. Until now, we thought it is a normal thing that men do. But now, I plan to speak to all students and raise a complaint about him with the school principal,” she says.
(With inputs from Preeja Prasad)