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A‌ ‌Journey‌ ‌of‌ ‌Harassment‌

Let’s talk about a very unique, yet eerily similar journey of every woman. Vehicles are generally used as means of transportation to travel to different places. But when it comes to women, it takes us on a different journey – a journey to an unsafe place rampant with harassment.

The most upsetting aspect of it is that it usually starts from school buses or school vans. There are instances of young girls and teenagers being touched inappropriately, to be brutally raped and left to die in these means of transport, sometimes by people with whom the parents trust their children.

Credits: CODATU

As we grow up, the scene moves away from our school buses to more horrible public buses and auto-rickshaws. The thing about public buses is that every girl inevitably gets touched, by accident, of course. We feel someone brushing our hand or groping us, it’s so crowded so who can tell? Not everyone will stand up to or call out their harasser, especially when it happens for the first time. The first times usually stuns us into silence and then we grow and get used to it. I remember the advice of one of my teachers, to keep a small needle pin with me, to use it as a weapon, if ever someone tries to touch me inappropriately. The needle is since then, my weapon of choice against every local, pervert in a bus. I also remember the warnings women need to follow before getting into a rickshaw or cabs: take the picture of the number plate, mandatory location share, and the meaningless rambling with friends while in it to feel comfortable and safe. All these shenanigans just to ensure that the driver takes me to my destination.

Then comes a time when (if available) we finally decide to take the reins of vehicles into our own hands. Whether it be a scooter or a car, we will be complimented by every random tom, dick and harry. From being called janeman to being disrespected and abused, these roadside hooligans have made it their job to not let the female drivers drive in peace. From teasing to catcalling to being raced with, women of all ages have at a point thought of giving up driving. But credit must be given where one earns it. They have a different dialogue in store for every different girl. A hijabi is advised to join the Taliban, and a non-hijabi get calls Sunny Leone. Let’s not even talk about the harassment and humiliation for a broken traffic rule or a basic traffic mistake by a woman driver that causes a minor inconvenience. To sum it up, it all comes down to the favourite catchphrase of every sanctimonious uncle and self-righteous youngster – “women can’t drive”.


Let’s move on to trains and aeroplanes. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the problem. The last time I was on a train, an old man, fit to be my grandpa had his eyes glued to my face. Initially, I thought there was something on my face until I realised it had to do with the fact that I was a female. He made sure that I stayed awake the entire journey. Planes are no better. If you think that even travelling business class would give you an ounce of safety, then I’m the one to break your bubble. Numerous incidents have been reported where fellow passengers have groped the thighs or even molested females in the plane washrooms.

The question remains, what should a woman do? How should she travel? Or should she just confine herself to the four walls of her house? But then again, where is the guarantee of safety even there? The only safe journey for a woman is the crossover to the other world but wait, wasn’t the corpse of a woman also raped?

Munazah Shakeel is a student pursuing Architecture from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Malaika M Khan

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.

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Written by Munazah Shakeel

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