I decided not to suffer anymore… Fighting street harassment

I decided not to suffer anymore… Fighting street harassment

Name: Savita (name changed)
Status: Out of School Adolescent Girl
Gumla District, Jharkhand, India

I love being part of the Kishori Samooh (girls group) sessions. I have learnt a lot, particularly about overcoming gender discrimination and my rights and entitlements. The interactions and learning in the group has given me the voice to protest against violence against women and girls and a community of friends who will stand up for me and with me.

Our “culture and practices” treat women differently. We are always asked to keep quiet, follow orders and silently suffer abuse. Every woman is taught that if she steps out of the house, she will be harassed and that she should not retaliate due to fear of reprisal. Be silent, lower your head and walk away. Always!

But I don’t want to suffer anymore. Just a few months back, I had gone, as a part of my daily routine, to fetch water from the village pond. As I was walking back home, some boys from the village, playing cricket nearby, started catcalling and one of them yelled out asking me to pour some water for him. Ordinarily, I would have kept quiet and walked away. But that day, I realized that keeping quiet would encourage more such harassment. I turned around and shouted at the boy to approach me. I told him, “I will empty the entire pitcher on your head.” The boys were taken aback at this and stunned that a girl had challenged them in public. Shamed, all of them walked away.

My actions encouraged other girls in the community to stand up and speak up against street harassment. Now there are fewer instances of boys misbehaving and harassing girls in my village. I also motivate my friends and community members to stand up and speak up against early marriage.

I am not quite sure what I want to be in the future, but I do know that I will always speak up and claim my rights.This is what I learnt form the sessions I attended under the SABLA program.

Centre for Catalyazing Change’s is supporting the implementation of the Government’s SABLA scheme in Gumla district, Jharkhand and in East district, Delhi.