It happened once again yesterday. A middle aged corporate executive met me for an official meeting but did not see a professional, instead saw a woman who his manhood had given the birthright to hit on. I am not sure at what point in the meeting did I realize what was really happening but I do know that the discomfort had set in early on. His mere gaze was making me feel creepy. His smirks were sending unpleasant vibes. His handshake at the end did it all. The pervert refused to let go of my hand. With four other people in the room, he had the guts to be so blatant while I on the other hand was meek enough to wiggle out my hand, walk out of that office and not utter a word.
I was seething with anger, was frustrated with my own reaction and to some extent felt exploited. I had to talk to let the steam out with someone who would understand, someone who I trust. So I called baloo. “Not all of them are swines. Sorry you have to meet them but keep going on”, said my friend and I decided to bury the episode. While on the face of it I have buried the episode I am still thinking about it and wondering if I did something to elicit that behavior. Rationality tells me that I am a complete idiot to hold myself even remotely responsible and yet the violated me feels maybe I do need to partake some of the blame. Just the thought of it makes me feel sick in the pit of my stomach. I also know that it is my word against that of this hungry man and hence there is not much I can do. So maybe I should just forget it all like a nightmare.
What happened with me was minor and trivial compared to the agony of molested and/or raped women. Their trauma is not easily assuaged. Yet the society (eastern and western) often neglects their suffering and deems them partially accountable. Take the case of the 25-year old rape victim in the UK who was told that her compensation would be reduced 25% as she had been drinking before the assault. It took a lawyer to point out that drinking was in no form or fashion an invitation for exploitation. The girl ultimately received the compensation in entirety, however, the intermediate verdict did the work of salt in the wounds; ensuring that any healing of the scars would be more aggravating.
In a number of countries sexual assault is considered an offense only if penetration happens or in case the physical association occurs without consent. What about the cases where there is no intercourse but the forced foreplay itself inhibits the woman from seeking sexual intimacy in the future? What about marital rape or instances where the woman gives in to physical intimacy only to save her own life? And why is it that the woman who is the victim needs to answer all the difficult questions, face the embarrassment and further expose her humiliation for evidence?
The feeling of being victimized, extended emotional and physical exposure, insensitive dealings of the law enforcement authorities and the attitude of the society prevents majority of the women from speaking out about sexual abuse that they have been subjected to. The ordeal ferments within causing confidence issues and emotional imbalances. With time the anguish only worsens and the woman suffers in silence while the perpetrator goes about leading a normal life probably inflicting pain on more innocent women who cross his path.
What can satisfy this hunger of men? Is it unlimited flow of the female body in varied shapes and sizes at their beck and call? Is it easy access to anything and everything that can be associated with sex? Or is it the other extreme of starving men completely of any female association? Or should every accused be simply castrated to set an example for the others of his kind? There needs to be a solution and there needs to be more sympathy. In a society where we fight for the rights of animals, we need to find some way to restore respect for the gender responsible for sustaining human life.