Dear Daughter, Learn To Stand Up For Yourself!

Almost 14 years back I remember walking down the main road of Sector 35, Chandigarh with my girl gang of 4. Those of you unaware of Chandigarh, it is a prosperous town of North India, synonymous with academics, business and town-planning. Honestly though the city does not matter because what happened that day could have happened any where. More importantly, it shook us and made us realise what it was to be a woman. Sadly according to Times Of India, there are too many women like us experiencing such horror everyday. And this is one incident from my life, I want my daughter to know about. Because the message is clear ‘Dear daughter learn to stand up for yourself’.

Going back, all four of us were dressed alike, although I don’t remember the colour of the t-shirts, the bottoms were black. What I do remember though is the collective hurt of our pride, which was much deeper than the bruise, the incident left on my bum.

We were walking along a busy road when two boys on a scooter decided to take us for a ride. As they came whirling down the road, one of them smacked my back with what felt like an ‘iron bar’ at that moment. Although stunned we started to run after them but their two-wheeler was too fast for us. I remember feeling a lump in my throat even though my mind was at the verge of blasting. I felt well pain, yes violated and really really angry.

I don’t know if it was the ‘journalism course we were due to Master in’ or just plain instinct, but we noted down a part of the number of the scooter, the colour and the make of the scooter. We called in an older friend, a senior and with her journalist-on-duty confidence and arrived at the Police Station to register an FIR.

The first reaction from the officers was pleasant smiles, acknowledging that young girls seldom come calling in there. Their second reaction was to make us feel unsafe at the mere thought of asking for safety.

We had a somewhat incomplete licence plate number, but initial investigation with the transport company confirmed the make, the colour and the rickety appearance of the scooter. We all had vengeful smiles on our lips, mine the widest. I had already slapped and punished the hooligan in my mind, a thousand times over. But somehow our sense of accomplishment was limited to us.

The duty officer then explained in no uncertain words what a waste of time the entire exercise would be. How could we ever prove that the scooter was being driven by boys at that particular moment in that particular area? He dismissed any big punishment being awarded to the boys for ‘some harmless fun’. We protested but felt forced into giving up. An ordinary day had converted to the most humiliating dark hours, filled with helplessness.

Years later I was yet again braving the Chandigarh roadside, this time alone. It was rush hour and I was at a very busy stretch of road. Before I could stop chiding myself for feeling vulnerable all these years later, something made my antenna beep full on. Right ahead of me I saw a motorbike riding towards me on the wrong side of the road. I was petrified. My mind was replaying that ugly incident that had taken place many summers back. I could feel the sweat trickle down my spine. I looked around for help but every man seemed a bigger monster than the one coming toward me. I could see myself standing in the police station all those years back. I remembered how small I had felt.

In real time the man and his bike was heading towards me faster than the fearful thoughts rolling in my mind. I could feel sweat roll down my back. We were almost face to face, my would-be tormentor smirked. It was the look of the hunter, of the powerful and of the winner. I could see his hand rising and leaping towards me like a snake. What happened next surprised me and changed me forever.

I looked him in his eyes, my fear suddenly evaporated and gone. I tightened my grip on the sling of my leather bag. And before he could react, I flung the bag at him with all my might. It hit him on his face and clearly paralysed the sense of superiority of both him as an individual and of his bike as his get away.

One for the road was still due. So I rolled the strap tightly in the palms of my hand and swung the bag yet again. It thudded against the backbone of the man on the run. Have you ever seen a frightened dog with his tail between his legs running helter-skelter. Yes that! That’s what he looked like. While I am sitting here and writing this I almost want to meet this man and thank him for liberating me of all my fears. Because if it was not for him I would have never realised what it meant to be a girl.

I hope that our daughters have to never go through such incidents in their lifetime. And for that we need to talk to our kids about eve-teasing, sexual harassment and equip them with power and confidence to fight back. According to a survey done by stop street harassment, of 811 women, 99 percent experienced street harassment in America. Unfortunately the stats will be same if not worse in India and many other parts of the world. No wonder all women need to stand up for themselves.

We would love to hear your story of courage and life-changing incidents at KetchupMoms. Write to us.

Comments (21)

Delores Posted on Jul 22, 2018

Just the type of inshigt we need to fire up the debate.


Beatrice Posted on Jul 21, 2018

I waetnd to spend a minute to thank you for this.


PriVin Posted on Feb 15, 2016

Such a powerful story! I agree we need to prepare our children strong enough to face situations. As a parent it is important to instill that in both our sons and daughters - sons to be respectable and girls to command that respect and be brave. Love your courage and strength.


Prerna Sinha (@maaofallblogs) Posted on Feb 15, 2016

So true Charu, we tend to let go and get over these incidents as we don't want to create a scene or are scared and what happens is that the ego of the offender is boosted. He decides he can get kicks by repeating this with many more. In your case, I am so glad you took action, now he will think many times, before troubling women for kicks.


Raffa Posted on Feb 13, 2016

I loved your post. Feminism is not about a woman being superior to a man, is about being equal to one, unfortunaly our society is still pretty blind to this. I don't have kids yet, but I can tell you that if I ever have kids I will teach them to stand up to themselfs - boy or girl!


Dunja Posted on Feb 12, 2016

This is exactly why feminism is needed. That was not just 'harmless fun'. They teach women how to protect themselves but they're not teaching men not to harm women. This is why we have to stand up for ourselves. GO GIRL!

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Regina Posted on Feb 12, 2016

Wow! Such an amazing story. Unfortunately as much as we would like to shield our children from the pain we've experienced in our lives they still have their lessons in life to learn and may get a few bruises here or there. Fortunately we as parents can equip them the best way we know how to handle these things. These experiences make us stronger and wiser.

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jan Posted on Feb 12, 2016

Great post and I am glad you shared :) I have been through it many times until just three years ago. I had to travel in public transport and buses in Chennai are always super crowded and many many times men used to shamelessly rub against us and I could do nothing much because of lack of space. But always had my elbows jutting out to keep them at bay as much as I can. My parents were shocked when they knew I carried a pepper spray once and argued that being small made it wouldn't help me much etc etc instead of encouraging to protect myself. They wanted me to ignore and move to a different place when it happened. I have loads on this topic to comment on but just want to say daughter should be very proud to have a mom such as yourself :)

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Via Bella Posted on Feb 12, 2016

This is so potent. Thank you for sharing your story!


DeAnna Posted on Feb 12, 2016

Such a powerful read! Yes, I agree we need to prepare our children on how to react when they are faced like that.

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YashY Murphy Posted on Feb 12, 2016

As always, beautifully written. This may have happen a couple years ago but sadly I can totally picture that first incident still happening today. Being brave and thinking on your feet doesn't come easily but it's definitely a skill we can instill in our kids, both boys and girls.

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Sabine Posted on Feb 12, 2016

Thank you for this post. The truth is that family - traditions are usually hard to break but not impossible. So bad dads raise bad sons (not always!) but the opposite is maybe even more important.. Well mannered dads (and moms) raise well mannered boys into men. I believe that the father role is still very important when it comes to raising good guys. Come on dads; be good to your daughters too. And your wife and your son. It will show in the next generations!

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Jaimie Posted on Feb 12, 2016

You hit a very important topic. And you write with words that are so descriptive which is a great characteristic of writing well. Thanks for sharing and spreading awareness.

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ROBERT LEE Posted on Feb 12, 2016

The hunter thrives on fear. The unexpected throws them off and because that was not expected, he can only take off. Good reaction, quick thinking and mercifully, nothing bad happened to you, Charu.

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Elle Strange Posted on Feb 12, 2016

This is heartbreaking. The people who should make you feel safe made you feel more unsafe. You step up by reporting but they doesn't do anything. This is one of the many reasons why culprits are very aggressive in doing the acts because they know others will not pursue. But what you did was brave. Good thing you are quick and got away.

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Martine de Luna Posted on Feb 12, 2016

Teaching boys to be men will always fall on the society they are in, and the family from where they cull their values. Although girls can really shred each other apart, just with words alone! Respect for the opposite sex really begins in the home, I believe.

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rachnalakhanpal Posted on Feb 12, 2016

I totally agree with you, Charu. This post is so important! La Belle Dame


stylewithtina Posted on Feb 12, 2016

Oh wow! Interesting read, and you wrote it like I was there with you! I also love the title. I would like to think times are different but sadly, I believe it's even worst with the internet. People meeting and then getting dragged somewhere to get sexually assaulted. Wonderful read. :)

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Roselle Toledo Posted on Feb 12, 2016

There are also places in the Philippines where it is unsafe for women to walk either alone or in group and the best that we can do is avoid those places. The authorities here are most of the time not helpful too.

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Connie McTribouy Posted on Feb 12, 2016

Love this, it's very hard to tread the thin line between standing up for yourself and being rude.

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polkadotsandcurry Posted on Feb 12, 2016

Eve teasing is not cool. We need to teach our daughters but at the same time parents need to teach their sons to be more respectable towards the fair sex. BTW Im from Chandigarh too:)

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Charu Chhitwal

Charu Chhitwal, Founder KetchupMoms has daring tastebuds, a love for travel and an owl for her soul. It’s little wonder then that she loves to write and share her tips and tricks on traveling, food,

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