They ogled, they passed sexually suggestive remarks, and they brushed against my body but I was asked not to speak up. While commuting regularly through public buses, I covered myself with a large dupatta (scarf) to escape their stares and touching but often failed to. I cried as each unwanted touch kept wounding me, I felt helpless as I cannot report to anyone because I was told this is common and something that each woman experiences. I was also told that I will be harming my own reputation should I utter a word. However, I kept thinking if a crime that becomes common no longer remains a crime? The anger, the rage and the frustration that was bottling up inside me wanted an outlet and so one day while attending a session on ICT4D (ICTs for Development) with Vickram Crishna (one of the creators of speech software for Stephen Hawking) - where everyone was sharing ideas on how ICTs can be used for betterment of community, I spoke up.
With a choking voice, afraid that the people around will make fun of me, I put forward an idea of using ICTs to fight against female harassment. To my surprise, I was highly encouraged and that was the beginning of converting all negative energy I had gathered inside into positive energy that gives me strength to fight not just for myself but millions others who are asked to stay quiet and withstand abuse on a daily basis. ICTs for me were the Internet and Mobile Phone so I started being vocal about street harassment online because I believe the first step towards bringing about a change is changing mindsets and that one can with the power of his/her words. I faced negative criticism, I faced angry feedback but what my blog posts, my tweets, my text messages and my Facebook statuses and Notes gained me the most is a network of like minded people, who want to bring about a change as much as I want to. We all want to make it safer to live offline and online for both genders. It was through one such friend that I was introduced to Pulse Wire.
I thought my journey to Pulse Wire has been a tough one and even writing this assignment was emotionally draining for me as it brought back many painful memories of harassment. However, reading my other Pulse Wire friends makes me feel, there are women who have had worse experiences than I had; but we all have chosen to be survivors than victims and I believe, together we can help other victimized men and women survive and stand tall too.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.