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"I Felt Eyes Piercing My Body" - A Female Indian Journalist Speaks Out About the Rape Case that Shook the World

As the four men involved in the Delhi gang rape are sentenced to death, one woman reflects on her recent homecoming to India.

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I punched the man once more and walked off. People stared at me. As I walked onto the bus, people were discussing the commotion. “Was he a thief? Did he get caught? What did he steal? These guys should be taught a lesson!”

I said aloud, “I was the one who made the noise. He had touched my behind.” Nobody said anything, not even offering fake condolences. Even the women were quiet; a thief story would have made them discuss about the sad state of the society until they had reached their destination. A molestation was not fun, and not to be spoken about.

The man had violated my body; the people who chose not to support me were complicit in that violation. My slapping the man paled in comparison to the way in which I felt violated. But nothing had happened, and soon it was time for me to get off the bus.

A continuing journey

Why did I finally shed my  dupatta in Bandra? Would a  dupatta continue to be tucked into my bag with my wallet and bottle of water? Why was I so scared in the first place? The Delhi rape took place about the same time as the rape in Steubenville, Ohio. But the former affected me so much more, in ways I had never fathomed. Was it because I knew that even if my hemlines were not revealing, the stares wouldn’t stop? Was it because I knew that men would always get away, while we women would be castigated? Was it because I was scared to find out how many of my male friends, or friends of my brothers, or my brother himself stared at women to make them uncomfortable?

I am still trying to find my answers, even as news of rape and other forms of sexual harassment continues to trickle in, both in India and from all parts of the world. Don’t get me wrong, patriarchy is not a problem just in India. My chest has been stared at by a very senior professor at a prestigious American university. But I feel the concern here is more acute because I am trying to find my way around my own home. India is a country where women are treated either as goddesses or vixens; it is a country where I grew up playing with boys; it is a country where the old vegetable vendors call me  beta (child), and where I once felt like a confident woman who could conquer the world with her intellect.

Priyanka Borpujari is an independent journalist from Mumbai, India. From September 2012 to April 2013, she was based in Boston and New York after being selected as the IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow 2012-2013. Her blog is www.priyanka-borpujari.blogspot.com

 
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