I am sure most of you must have heard about the #MeToo revolution that is taking the internet by storm. For those who haven’t, Hashtag Me Too is a recent trend raising voice against sexual assault and harassment on social media platforms.
Let me be very clear about two things-
1. Men are victims too. Men get raped too.
2. No place is assault-free. Be it public transport or your office or even your own house.
What’s a sexual assault ?
Have you ever felt someone rub their body on yours in a crowded bus or train ? Has anyone pulled your hairs or your neck by force ? Has anyone held your hands inappropriately and longer than they should have ? Has anyone ever tried to kiss you against your will ? Has anyone tried to force themselves on you? Has anyone tried to touch you despite your repeated disapproval? Yes? That’s sexual assault.
What’s the minimum age for an assault?
There is no minimum age for assaults. My friend was first assaulted when she was only 5 !
How does one feel during and after an assault?
Gross. Paralysed. Numb. Scared. Ashamed. That’s how I felt. And I am sure you too must have felt the same. You want to speak up but you can’t. Because you think you are the only one who has gone through something as shameful as this. You start hating your body. You become so self aware about what you wear, where you go, who you hang out with, the time, the location etcetra. When I went to live in the hostel 6 years back, an acquaintance who now happens to be my best friend, discussed how a man constantly rubbed her head while she was sleeping in the train. Another guy friend of mine told me about this computer teacher who did something similar to him in high school.
The problem ?
To most people it might not be a very big deal. But let me assure you the psychological ordeal is devastating ! People tend to develop anti-social behaviour once they have been a victim of these sick activities. They start experiencing trust issues with everybody around them. And why not ? That little girl of 6, was assaulted by her own uncle! How is she supposed to trust outsiders, when she can’t trust her own family ?
The stigma attached to man-assault is the same as that of – Men don’t cry. And I think it is very stupid. I have seen my father cry. I have seen my brother cry. And trust me they are the toughest men I have ever known. Men are also assaulted too. Men are victims of violence just as women. They just stay quiet because we have attached them to immoral and unrealistic standards of being an epitome of strength and aggression !
What we need to do?
There has been a lot of awareness about movies, fashion, food and fitness, what remains is the awareness about sexual assaults and the impact they have on the victim’s life. I believe this #MeToo is an amazing initiative and those who have been through any kind of assault in the past are speaking up. And I think this is the first step of a very long journey.
But you know what. This will not stop. It will keep on rising. Everyday. You know why ? Because some of us are afraid to speak up. And they know it, the assaulters know our weakness! Our weakness is silence !
A lot of you must have been through something very similar, I just want you to know you are not alone in this. As one of my seniors said, Silence isn’t always golden. So speak up. I have taken my stand against sexual harassment and I shall bear it no more. What are you waiting for?