Let’s Speak Up Against Excesses


Bini Dahal

In my years of using public transportation, my experiences have always been limited to getting pushed or reaching a destination late. Therefore, I used to consider my experience in public buses to be fine until recently when I gained a bad incident.

While on my way home to Pepsicola from Maitighar of Kathmandu, I found myself seated beside a sleeping man. His head was tilted towards the window and he had not realised my presence there. Initially, I was reluctant to take the seat but it was the only remaining one. So, I casually just took the seat. Little did I know that he was drunk.

He woke up in the middle of the ride and then slanted his whole body towards me. Throughout the journey, he kept on staring at me very intently. That inconvenient situation left me wishing to give up the seat and walk out, regardless of the crowded state of the bus. But I plucked up my courage and asked him to turn around. The drunkard shouted “why?” and this grabbed the attention of the onlookers. But none of them said anything.

At that moment, multiple questions ran through my mind. Should I take out my umbrella and just hit him? Should I raise my voice? Should I get out of the seat? Or should I just get off the bus even if it meant taking another one? Eventually, I chose to move away and stand. Not surprisingly, one of the onlookers, a man, casually occupied the vacant seat.

As the bus reached its destination, the drunkard disembarked. I noticed him getting closer to the standing girls, confirming his perverted nature. Feeling deeply uncomfortable, I asked a woman standing close to me for protection, in case he dared to do anything. The woman pushed him hard and shielded me. As a reaction, the drunkard spoke some filthy words before getting off the bus. 

My personal experience sheds light on the broader reality of what girls and women face on a day-to-day basis. While saying this, I would like to mention that not everyone is the same. There are understanding and respectful people as well. However, the existence of some people creates trauma and feelings of discomfort for many. Especially those who have no respect for anyone, in particular the opposite gender.

For the first time, I was forced to think of my existence as a female. It felt like a curse. I have realised that I have to make myself strong and be prepared for anything. Throughout the journey back home, all I could think about was, what could I have done differently? Or what should have been done in that situation?

My experience has highlighted the need for improvements in ensuring a safe and comfortable environment for the passengers, particularly addressing the need of girls and women. Today, there is urgency to promote and stick to the culture of zero tolerance, the culture of respect and gender equality. Also, strict monitoring should be done when it comes to the presence of boozers and other miscreants.

We are also in need to speak up which can solve a lot of things. It can give strength to those who feel exploited and harassed. It alerts the wrongdoers and makes them think twice before acting in a rude manner. As long as we don’t speak up and don’t consider other’s problem as our own, in no way can we tackle an issue like harassment and gender-based violence in public transportation.  

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